Monday, March 31, 2008

Reading Ahead

Two Bible study groups at All Saints look at the upcoming readings for Sunday. Even if you can't attend one of the groups (Tuesdays at noon or Sundays at 9 a.m. Child care provided for both.), you may want to look ahead at Sunday's lessons.

This week is Easter 3, and you can find the readings here.

The gospel lesson is Luke's famous Road to Emmaus story. As you read it, think about how ... like those runaway disciples ... "your eyes are kept from recognizing" the risen Christ. What gets in your way when you try to see Jesus? What keeps you from seeing the resurrection going on around you?

Thoughts are welcome. Click the comments button and share yours.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Prayer, Politics and Prophecy

The Rev. Kenneth Leech is an Anglo-Catholic Socialist who spent the 40 years of his clergy career working in the slums of London, mostly with junkies and homeless youth. He is also the author of the seminal book on spiritual direction, the book that really started the whole spiritual direction movement ... Soul Friend.

He spoke yesterday at the School of Theology here at Sewanee about his 40 years in street ministry. He said that Christian social justice that is not grounded in prayer and contemplation is ultimately empty. But he also said that prayer, truly and deeply done, will lead one to consideration of politics, to look at the world the way it is and ask why it is not the way God would have it be. And that, he said, will lead one into a kind of prophetic stance, speaking for God against the powers of the world.

As All Saints gets more involved in social justice and outreach, this is an interesting question for us. Are we also engaging in the kind of contemplative prayer and spirituality that will sustain our work? What do you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sewanee - The University of the South

The University of the South, also known as Sewanee, was founded 150 years ago by a group of Episcopal bishops from across the South who wanted to found a college and seminary in the southern states. Currently, the institution is owned by 28 dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and it offers an undergraduate liberal arts education to 1,300 students, and graduate studies in the School of Theology for around 100 students. It is one of the accredited Episcopal seminaries.

The campus is set high on a mountain in the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga. The more than 10,000 acres of mountainside owned by the university is called the Domain. When you leave the Domain, you are supposed to tap your car roof to let a Sewanee angel know that you are leaving. An angel is supposed to travel with you and protect you while you are off the Domain. When you return, you tap your car roof to release the angel.

There is also a "Gown tradition" here. Professors wear academic gowns when they teach. Students who have met certain academic goals also wear gowns to class. Some of the buildings here were designed after buildings at Oxford and Cambridge, and there is a lovely, pseudo-English feeling to the campus. Students are active participants in the worship life of All Saints Chapel, where morning and evening prayer are held daily. Also, women students must wear dresses or skirts to class and men students must wear ties and jackets.

There are two ways of being an Episcopalian in the South. There is the Vuh-ginn-iuh way, exemplified at Virginia Theological Seminary. It is fairly low church, with the emphasis on the Bible and on preaching, not on liturgy and ritual. Cassocks and surplices are the favored garb.

Then there is the Sewanee way. Sewanee has a love of liturgy and pomp and reflects a more Anglo-Catholic tradition. Chausibles and incense are OK here!

I realize that I have been formed by both traditions. My upbringing in Florida was in a church staffed with Sewanee-trained clergy. My seminary experience was at Virginia. Despite my Midwest roots and many, many years on the East Coast, I think I am a Southern Episcopalian by experience and training. But with both strands -- Sewanee and Virginia -- interwoven.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Some Time to Think

I'll be away through Sunday at Sewanee Theological Seminary for some theological reading and conversation with scholars. I'm looking forward to meeting The Rev. Kenneth Leech, an Anglican priest and activist. Sarah Midzalkowski is filling in for me back at All Saints.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Easter Poem

This poem by Lucille Clifton is one of my favorites at Easter. Especially with the snow blowing around outside ...

the green of jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
in the body of jesus and
the future is possible

-- lucille clifton, "spring song"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Welcome to the pastor's blog for All Saints Episcopal Church. This is a place to share thoughts about our faith journey, information about the parish, and provide a place where we can dialogue about our church, our faith, and our questions online.

This is an icon of the resurrection of Christ. It shows him standing upon the gates of hell, which have been broken open by the resurrection. Jesus reaches down into hell to redeem all the souls that had been languishing there, beginning with Adam and Eve, whom he helps out into the light of new life.

I love this icon because it reminds me that anyone and everyone is within the reach of Christ's saving embrace. No exceptions.

-- Pastor Kit