Daily Archives: April 14, 2008

Identity and Priorities

The reported words of the Bishop of Durham found in the Lead today gives me pause. If letters are going out, I wonder whether they go to the “Southern” Cone or to New York & Friends. I’ll not waste my time nor yours speculating—I imagine if the words are true, we’ll know soon enough.

The girls and I went to M’s church yesterday where there were two preachers. The first preached at the early service which was a set of baptisms of great significance for the life of the local church. The preacher was a visitor from the area who now holds a role at 815. The preacher at the second service was M. I was struck by the contrast between the two.

I don’t like judging a person on the basis of a single sermon or liturgical encounter, so I’ll try not to do that. Let me just say that the first preacher completely met my stereotypes of someone who works at 815: much emphasis on social justice. The church was mentioned several times but I came away uncertain what the difference was between the church and a social services agency.

M’s sermon focused on Jesus as the gate through baptism and the sacramental life in the presence of God as the meaning of “having life and having it abundantly.”

No matter to whom the ABC’s letters go, now is the take for the Episcopal Church as a whole to think careful about who and what it is. My own focus and my own gifts are not those best suited for social justice, but I see that as an important component of what we do deriving entirely from God’s call to us. But we are not a social services agency or an advocacy organization. We are a church. The deep mysteries of life, the beauty of holiness, the life hid in God—these are our core mission and the other things we do proceed from there.