Saturday, March 31, 2007

Episcopal Schism?

A friend posted a thoughtful blog entry about the recent Epsicopal lurch towards schism, and the potential departure of friends from her church (formerly my church, as well). She spoke of the many misconceptions and societal errors that drive us to break up - that prevent us from bearing with one another and breaking bread together. Below is a comment I added to her post...

When I read your post today I was sharply reminded of 2 Kings 4:38-41 - the story of Elisha and the poisoned soup. Did they throw out the soup? No - he threw in some meal "and there was nothing harmful in the pot." So what is the meal? What does this mean? Why did it come to mind in this context? I have some sketchy feelings that the meal is what we should be applying to the current situation between brothers and sisters in the Episcopal church, and what should, perhaps, have been done at every schism.

I think of a relatively recently written song used in Catholic masses as a Eucharistic hymn.

gift of finest wheat

music and lyrics: Robert E. Kreutz

You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat,
come give to us o saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.

verse 1
as when the shepherd calls his sheep, they know and heed his voice;
so when You call Your family Lord, we follow and rejoice.

verse 2
with joyful lips we sing to You, our praise and gratitude,
that You should count us worthy Lord, to share this heavenly food.

verse 3
the mystery of Your presence Lord, no mortal tongue can tell;
whom all the world cannot contain comes in our hearts to dwell.

verse 4
You give yourself to us o Lord, then selfless let us be,
to serve each other in Your name in truth and charity.

Could Christ be the meal? {grin} I mean grain, like Elisha threw in the soup.

Why do we leave a church? Because we no longer consider the worship of the others to be true? Because we fear our own faith or the faith of our children may be damaged by hearing what we consider to be wrong ideas? Because we no longer believe the Spirit moves in the presider, and the Eucharist is thus somehow invalidated?

For now I find these questions beyond me, and not mine to answer. This may change.

In my case I did not leave a church in particular, though it was events in a particular church that precipitated my departure. I left organized church in general. I needed to leave, like a man who needs to clear his head at a concert or a party by going outside and breathing some cold fresh air. I was seeing the defects of organized church in a way that blocked seeing anything else. I've become some kind of a cow, I think. Recent visits to church left me feeling sleepy and benign, with dew from the fields still on my shaggy bovine hide. I was OK being there, enjoyed the company and worship, found God there as congenially as elsewhere, but I was happier to return outside. I know God will eventually turn me back into a man (possibly your blog and this conversation is part of that process), but for now I'm learning by being cattle.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Psalms, one that always seemed the most pastoral, the most foolish grinning cattle-like early morning comfortable love. It's another place I could live forever.

How good, how delightful it is
to live as brothers all together!

It is like a fine oil on the head,
running down the beard,
running down Aaron's beard,
onto the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon
falling on the heights of Zion;
for there Yahweh bestows his blessing,
everlasting life.

(See my other post about cows and "The Church of the Great Outdoors.")

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