Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garrison Keillor on Episcopalians

We make fun of Episcopalians for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them. If you were to ask an audience in Des Moines, a relatively Episcopalianless place, to sing along on the chorus of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Episcopalians, they'd smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! ....And down the road!

Many Episcopalians are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Episcopalians to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this, people: Episcopalians, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you are dying, they will comfort you. If you are lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you are hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!

Episcopalians believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud. Episcopalians like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

Episcopalians believe their Rectors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there. Episcopalians usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

Episcopalians believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

Episcopalians feel that applauding for their children's choirs will not make the kids too proud and conceited.

Episcopalians think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

Episcopalians drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

Episcopalians feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

Episcopalians are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

Episcopalians still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and Episcopalians believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know you are a Episcopalian when:
-It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.
-You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can.
-Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.
- When you watch a Star Wars movie and they say, "May the Force be with you," and you respond, "and also with you."
- And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye . . . .

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stephen Colbert reports on The Lambeth Conference

Friday, July 11, 2008

Redwoods and The Episcopal Church

an essay by John C. N. Hall

When walking among the massive coastal redwoods in the Muir Woods National Park north of San Francisco, one speaks in hushed tones. Dwarfed in the deep shade of these colossal trees, one senses the sacred nature of an ancient cathedral. The tallest redwoods are reaching higher than the Statue of Liberty. The oldest began growing before Christ was born. Yet, these top-heavy giants have shallow roots and would easily be felled by the constant coastal wind if growing alone. So, as if by some divine command, the trees grow in groups, with roots twisted and intertwined to form a vast labyrinth of support for all, just below the surface. This unseen mesh of connectedness binds the forest into one vast living organism with unifying strength, and allows each individual to reach in safety toward heaven. The trees are one.

In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus prays that his followers would be kept in safety as one. Seeking unity for those he loves, Christ petitions the Father saying, “Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as you and I are one.” It is this unity, spoken of by Christ in prayer, for which people long, the desire for God-given oneness, to live together as one Body in Christ, and to be reconciled to each other, to the world, and to God.

Some might say a realistic look at The Episcopal Church suggests that all is not well. Others find the Church poised for new learning, new growth, and a bright future. Certainly, universal agreement is neither a hallmark of The Episcopal Church in this present moment, nor has it been in times past. Nevertheless, while the Lord Jesus in his “high priestly prayer,” as it is sometimes called, prays for unity, Christ is not ordering his followers into oneness, as some action of collective will. Rather, Christ is praying that God will preserve his loved ones in the unity that is already theirs in Jesus’ name. “Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me…” he prays. It is by belonging to Christ, by gathering in the name of Jesus, that the Church’s roots are kept bound together. The Episcopal Church is, in fact, already one in Christ Jesus by the will of God.

The fourth chapter of Ephesians provides the first words of the service of Holy Baptism. “There is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us.” In claiming the promises made at Baptism, Christians live as beloved sisters and brothers, and members of one Body, the Church. Saint Paul’s wonderful description of the Church as the Body of Christ, complete with eyes, ears, nose, and hands, in his first letter to Corinth reveals the Church’s diversity in the midst of its unity in Christ. This unity in the body does not necessarily equate to uniformity, or even agreement, however. An eye and a toe behave differently. They are one in the body and still surprisingly unique. Yet, the Body of Christ, when functioning optimally, seeks to live by one simple rule: agreement follows unity rather than unity following agreement.

The faithful members of the Body of Christ in The Episcopal Church are like the magnificent redwoods along the Pacific coast, they already are knit together in unity, rooted as one in the name of Jesus Christ.