What is frustrating about the implosion of the mainline and my denomination in particular, is the leadership’s inability to address the decline in membership and faithfulness to the Christian faith among mainline Christians. The talk of inclusion and being ‘welcoming and affirming’ is actually an irony. The more lax the tradition, the less people there are who show up for the game. Here’s a great sign for the front lawn: “We welcome and affirm your brokenness. We have nothing to offer you that you cannot get staying at home watching trendy cable shows like ‘Queer Eye’. But we’re very nice!”
However, I am no longer sure that ECUSA (and many of the other mainline denominations) on a national level can call itself a ‘church’ at all. Churches do not put matters of faith and morals up to a ‘vote,’ nor are they driven by secular agendas. No one has a ‘right’ to be ordained, it is something that God calls you to. No one has a ‘right’ to anything in God’s Kingdom. We relinquish our rights for the sake of Christ and the sake of the the Body, the Church.
Conventions and Conferences only cause more and more people to become disillusioned with what they thought was a church. What these poor folk learn is that there is nothing ‘one, holy, catholic, or apostolic’ about elitists voting away the soul of their own faith.
PS The photo is not from the General Convention, but from Trinity Wall Street’s celebration of Trinity Sunday in 2005. A mime and clown mass. Kyrie Eleison.
The early Christians not only believed that the New Testament taught the divinity of Christ and hence, the doctrine of the Trinity, they also experienced God in a Trinitarian way. God the Father was ‘above’ them, God the Son was ‘with’ them in the person of Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit was ‘within’ them, making them a new creation.
What puts us at odds with Judaism and Islam (Mohammed in the Koran says, ‘if Allah had a Son, I would be the first to worship him’), is our insistance that God is one yet three, and that indeed God’s greatest act was to become one of us.
So much of Protestant reflection on salvation has wrongly put Jesus at odds with his Father. In other words, God anger with us was taken out on Jesus. However, the Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son of God show us a God who is not angry, but who is reaching out to us, even before we reach for him.
A Blessed Trinity Sunday+
Getting close to the Feast of Pentecost, it is vital and necessary to focus on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. One thing that stikes me, though, is the way in which the Holy Spirit ‘lifted the veil’ not only on the way the disciples saw the world, but also on their sense of perception. It was as if they could not only see better, but that they could also ‘hear’ better. When God spoke, they could not help but hear. When he called, they could not help but follow. Listen to these words by a Benedictine abbot at the consecration of a monk:
When God calls He means business! He calls and you must respond ‘Yes” or ‘No’. Anything less or different would be a lie to Him and to yourself. The response can be nothing less than total. Part time monks are like part-time Christians; they are good only for Sunday Mass statistics!
What we need is the ability to hear–an ability to perceive the Holy Spirit’s radical call in our lives!