Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Let Jesus Open the Way

The Episcopal Church, in its insane rush to self-destruction, is suing congregations and even individual church members who dissent from its unbiblical teachings and practices. (I Corinthians 6 warns against such lawsuits and describes them as a spiritual defeat, even for the "winner.")

The times are stressful for those still in TEC congregations, or in congregations and dioceses at which TEC is grasping. How long should one endure, and what is a Godly path when it is time to leave?

Today's morning lessons (1928 Book of Common Prayer) are challenging and comforting at the same time.

The Collect (focal prayer) for this week (Third Sunday after Trinity) is:

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dangers and adversities are in our path through this world, but the Holy Spirit is within us, offering up prayer at all times, and seeking the mighty aid of the Father to defend and comfort us. Pray and be in God's presence.

With prayer in our hearts and on our lips, let's look at the first lesson (portions of Judges 6). It tells about similarly bad times in ancient Israel:

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

Part of our work is to stop looking at TEC's hostile leaders and start confessing our own complicity in the mess. As Canon Kendall Harmon said in one sermon,

...the whole Episcopal Church is under judgment including us. The so-called orthodox, that’s us, have an enormous amount to answer for in this time. Our sins of compromise, timidity, denial, ignorance, careerism, self-interest, party spirit, the list is very long.

Be honest and uncompromising in examining and confessing your own sins. They are blocking your way forward.

And speaking of moving forward, the 2nd morning lesson (Luke7:11-16) begins on a blocked road:

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out...

Here at the gate to Nain, Jesus is trying to come in, but a procession of death and loss is coming the opposite way, blocking his path.

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that is stronger than death. He has come to help his people. He can touch what is lifeless and lost and bring back life and a future. Praise him, really open up your heart to the awe of who Jesus is and praise him. Praise him for all you are worth because you are worth his life sacrificed on the cross.

The raising of a dead body is unexpected. The path that Jesus will open for you, for us, might well be something we never "asked or imagined." Stay close to Jesus and let him open the way.


Anonymous said...

Speaking as a lay person, I agree that we must continue to seriously consider the importance of rejecting satan's hold on TEC by leaving 'The House that TEC [once upon a time, Anglican]Built' but that TEC willingly gave to satan.

As Anglicans, we must continue to 1) preach over and over to the choir to keep morale up
2) reach other 'choir members' that we do not yet know in order to help the group as a whole become stronger and able to support each other further than in our own backyards
3) FIND A WAY to reach those who are either simply frustrated enough to go to another denomination or who are simply not getting the message (certainly not for our lack of trying) because they don't understand the full picture and may find themselves and their families in a very bad way if they don't catch on soon.

Friendly Anglican Lady in a Black Office Chair

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad to see my church fraying at the edges, and it makes me at least as sad to see my church leadership suing congregations over ownership of buildings.

To ++Schori I would say: let those who want to leave with their buildings do so; let us show them that grace; let us not think that the strength of TEC is in our ability to retain property or retain legal counsel; let us not engage in lawsuits amongst ourselves. Let us instead show the same grace to those who would leave that we wish had been shown to us when we chose to walk apart from Rome centuries ago; let us show the same grace to those who would leave us as we would show to those who would join us; let us show the same grace to those who would leave us that our Father shows to us each time we choose to walk in our own counsel rather than in His.

Bishop Schori, God bless you with wisdom and godliness to confront the decisions that lie before you; God grant you the grace to conform all your decisions to His will, and to conform your mind not to the legal wisdom of this world but to the mind of Christ. The peace of Jesus be with you.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if you want to contact Presiding Bishop Schori to let her know what you think about these lawsuits, here's how:

Snail mail:
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017


(800) 334-7626

Might not be a bad idea for all of us who care about these things to let her know that it's not just a few breakaway parishes and African clergy who are upset about it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tim. I have sent a letter to several friends still within the church asking: 1. At what point will the Episcopal Church cease to be a Christian entitiy? 2. Will you, or your priest recognize this when it has happened? 3. Do you love the building and the history more than you love Christ?