Sermon notes for Proper 20
XVIII Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2018
Scripture: Mark 9:30-37
The sermon begins at 4:51
Sermon notes for Proper 20
XVIII Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2018
Scripture: Mark 9:30-37
The sermon begins at 4:51
Sermon notes for Proper 17
XV Sunday after Pentecost
September 2, 2018
Scripture: James 1:17-27
The sermon audio begins at 4:29.
Today we hear from the epistle of James in our second lesson. You may already be aware that this letter is one of those New Testament texts that has taken a steady amount of criticism over the centuries, with some folks even questioning its presence in the canon. Mostly these criticisms have not arisen from questions of authorship, which in comparison with some other texts of the New Testament, is relatively clear. The main arguments being whether the letter is the result of teachings collected by disciples after his death, or the direct work of James the Just of Jerusalem–a brother or other close relative of Jesus, and first bishop of the Jerusalem church, and “decider” of the Jerusalem council. The consensus is that the letter represents legitimate teachings of James, one way or the other.
Rather than questions of provenance, it is a question of theology that has prompted the most heated critiques. The book is too focused on morals–it’s legalistic, moralistic, focusses on works! It doesn’t mention Jesus enough!
As is often the case, I think those books or pages that we would most like to see torn out of the Bible–the passages we’d most like to see redacted with black ink like some top secret document–are often the very ones that we ought to spend some time in reflection about. I have some of those passages myself. Nothing in James is among them.
If it’s appropriate to use such language about books of the Bible or biblical authors, when it comes to the Epistle of James, I’m a fan.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, at least as I’ve read, the epistle echoes the words and teachings of Jesus more than any non-gospel text in the New Testament.
In any case, I think it’s a beautiful letter. And one that seems to have been composed for the benefit of the whole church–perhaps to help prepare people for baptism.
The collect for Proper 17 has a particular resonance with our epistle. Listen to it again, and consider the imagery that is used:
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.Collect for Proper 17, Book of Common Prayer
Both begin with a statement about the origins of good things and gifts. In the collect, God is “the author and give of all good things,” while James says that “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above,” it becomes clear that James isn’t saying that God gives all good things directly, but rather, that whatever is good, whatever goodness there is within people, whatever gifts they give, are dependent upon God. Generosity as a virtue and the gifts that we give come “down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
“Father of Lights” is a poetic reference to God with an interesting history. It’s attested outside the canon of scripture in a book called The Apocalypse of Moses. This demonstrates that James wasn’t manufacturing a poetic image to refer to God, but was rather using a term that the recipients of his letter, or those he was speaking to would likely have understood. The description bears some unpacking.
In calling God “the Father of Lights,” James is drawing our attention to God as creator, specifically as the one who placed all the “lights,” i.e. the celestial bodies–Sun, Moon, stars, planets, etc.–in their places and courses. But while these marvelous gifts of God to humanity and all of creation change–they wax and wane with the seasons–their origin, “The Father of Lights,” does not, for in God there are no “phases,” no times of lesser light, no “variation or shadow due to change,” or as the King James put it, in a way slightly more evocative of heavenly bodies, “neither shadow of turning.”
This poetic imagery undergirds and supports the insight that every good thing has its beginning and origin in God–everything, including the good that we do. The fact that this is a foundational premise of James’ entire letter puts paid to the idea that the letter forwards some sort of works righteousness. Instead, the letter is a reflection on how we can engage in those works through the power of God in us.
James does want us to understand that a lack of those good things and good works–is indeed indicative of problems we need to be aware of. It’s indicative of the fact that we’ve forgotten who we are and whose we are, and that we might be depending upon ourselves rather than on God. James does indeed say–as we will hear next week–that faith without works is dead, but it’s dead insofar as we have not experienced the life that God gives us in Christ.
Consider, James begins by telling us that all good things find their beginning and origin in God, and then moves directly into talking about how this connects with our lives of faith. “In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). This passage leads some scholars to propose that the letter may have been composed as part of an effort at catechizing people, with this section highlighting the effects of Baptism. God has given us new birth by the word, by the waters of baptism, by the gospel.
And just as God enlivened the first creation by the Word, so too we are new creations by the Word. If we’ve been made new and–to quote Paul who is unfortunately and inappropriately held up as a counter example to James–it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that new life will bear fruit, both individually and corporately. It is from this fundamental stance of God’s gifts and graces that James moves into the expectations for those who would follow Jesus: “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20).
Our anger–like any work motivated or empowered only from ourselves–cannot produce the righteousness of God, because everything that is good comes from God. So, when James writes that in order to be faithful, we must rid ourselves “of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness,” he recognizes that there is only one means by which we can accomplish this, by welcoming “with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save [our] souls” (James 1:21).
I hope that by now you can see that, while James may not write Jesus’ name all that often in his letter to the Church, Jesus is all over what he’s writing. Christ the Word is fundamental to and presumed by everything that James is telling us.
Because of this, when James writes “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves,” the actions he’s describing are actions that have their origin in the Word of God, which are empowered by the Word in us. We’re utterly dependent.
But if this is the case, how do any of us who claim to follow Jesus end up stumbling? How can we fail to do what we’re called to do if indeed it is Christ who is doing it through us? Does that mean that Christ has somehow failed? Not at all. James gives us a way to consider these failings:
“For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like” (James 1:23-24).
When we forget who we are and whose we are, when we turn away from the one who is reshaping us in his image, then it’s like looking in a mirror and not recognizing ourselves. We’ve forgotten something fundamental to who we are: that we belong to God and Christ dwells within us. To counter this, when we struggle with intellectual assent to the faith, or emotional excitement about our faith, we can instead look into “the perfect law, the law of liberty,” and imitate the actions of Christ in his earthly ministry, and in being reminded what and who we ought to look like, we can find the strength to “persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act” and we “will be blessed in their doing” (James 1:25).
Finally, James closes this section of his letter with a clear example of what being a doer rather than simply a hearer would look like, writing that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). Briefly, imitate Jesus as best you can, and trust in God to do the rest.
We know that we would not long be able to carry on with such imitation on our own power. And I believe James knew this. I believe he never expected that we would be carrying on under our own power, because every good thing is from God, and while we might vary and change, while our faith may wax and wane, God’s faith in us never does–for in him there is no variation or variation due to change.
Considering this, when we find ourselves at a loss, when we don’t know how we can continue, we find ourselves back at the insight so central to todays collect, and we can pray:
Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; and with James, the Brother of the Lord, we pray this knowing that it can only come through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
“Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him” (John 6:64).
Sermon for Proper 16
14th Sunday after Pentecost
August 26, 2018
Scriptures: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 • Psalm 34:15-22 • Ephesians 6:10-20 • John 6:56-69
The Sermon begins at 4:30.
Below are my sermon notes for Sunday, August 26, 2018. This is a rare occasion where I typed out the full manuscript. Often I hand write it in my notebook, and then pull only the relevant quotes (if I quote anyone verbatim), and include them with an outline. You can see the way that this sermon both differs in some of its details from the sermon I preached, but how it also displays the same structure and primary content.
Jesus knew from the first, who were the ones that did not believe, and yet he taught them and worked miracles among them. Some commentators indicate that the Gospel of John is talking about the crowds here, or the larger group of disciples, and not the twelve, and yet, we know from Mathew’s Gospel, during even the post resurrection appearances, they worshipped him, “but some doubted.” Even if this specific reference in John is talking only about the people in the crowds who did not believe, and not the disciples themselves, but we know that the disciples sometimes wavered in their faith.
More dramatically, even if the Gospel is not including any of the disciples among those who did not believe, we know beyond a doubt that Jesus knew that Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
This reality hit me squarely between the eyes a few years ago when I first read a book entitled A Brutal Unity by Episcopalian theologian Ephraim Radner. Radner emphasizes the nature of the church and issues related to church division in his work, and he’s been pretty influential on my own thinking about Christian division. But this section is about more than the formal divisions between churches–the official and sometimes white washed theological arguments and sometimes fossilized practices and habits that keep us apart. This is about something deeper: a choice that Jesus makes early in his ministry with knowledge about the evil in the heart of one of the disciples, and yet he embraces him as one of his inner circle anyway.
This challenges us not only at an institutional level, but on a personal one, and it is for that reason that I wanted to share it with you. It will get us at something of particular importance in our Gospel text this morning. Radner writes that:
A central question involves the fact that Jesus “chose” Judas as one of the Twelve (Luke 6:13-16; John 6:70-71; Luke 22:3, 47; Acts 1:16-17). Jesus chose the one he “knew” would betray him yet placed him among the Twelve around whom the heavenly Jerusalem would be built (Rev 21:14), though, of course, his place would be taken by another. The issues of predestination and foreknowledge—as Augustine and Calvin and Barth all understood—were implicated in this fact. But just as importantly, and because of this, comes the issue of Jesus’ own willingness, in all deliberation, to take to himself one whom he understood to be bound to “Satan” in some fashion (and even Peter too had this about him), that is, to be his “enemy” (cf. Luke 22:13). Thus, the notion, driven by readings from the alternative traditions about Judas recently made popular, that there was a “secret” pact between Jesus and Judas, in which Jesus himself orchestrates his own arrest with his friend’s cooperation, have no foundation in the Gospels themselves—Jesus did not make an agreement with Satan as his ally! But there is an unsettling and perplexing problem at work, nonetheless, in how Jesus could tolerate and even embrace one whom he could not trust because of the latter’s certain and ultimately immovable opposition.
Yet Judas had a constructive role among the Twelve—he went out, he was commissioned, he preached and healed and exorcised, returning with joy to report the successes of his ministry, along with the others. He kept the funds of the group as they traveled along and distributed alms from the common store. And he was a thief as well, in all of this (John 12:6)! An embezzler, a wolf among the sheep. Nonetheless, “chosen” not out of ignorance, but in full knowledge. Jesus chose his enemy to be his companion and friend—betrayed, in the end not by a torrent of lies or by the rage of rejection but by a “kiss.”Ephraim Radner, A Brutal Unity, Kindle location 2,647
How many of us could, or would even consider, embracing someone as a friend whom we knew would betray us? Who could even lead us into a situation that would result in our death?
And yet this is exactly what Jesus does. Radner points out, in fact, that Judas isn’t the only one “bound to Satan” in some way, but Peter is too (remember, Jesus actually refers to Peter as Satan when he opposes what must come to pass). It may seem extreme to talk this way about Peter, but I think it is revealing not only about Peter and Judas, but all the disciples: that Christ had perfect knowledge of what was to come, does not mean that every one of the disciples wasn’t equally capable of such betrayal. Indeed, Jesus’ own actions demonstrate a sense in which everything is not determined, as he tells Peter after predicting his three denials, “…I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
In some sense two paths are held out before us. Two examples. The path of Peter, which leads to redemption out of failure and betrayal–we could call this the path of hope–and the path of Judas, which can admit no opportunity for redemption, for forgiveness. We could call this this path of despair.
But if Judas despaired and lacked both belief and hope, had he always lacked them? Was Judas always wicked? This is a contested question in the church of the first four centuries. Some, like Augustine, will say that Judas was always wicked and bound for destruction. Others, like Origen and–perhaps–John Chrysostom, argue that there are turning points at which Judas chooses the evil over the good.
Origen will argue that Judas could not always have been wicked because he was trustworthy enough to have been given the common purse, to be the one entrusted with the distribution of alms for the poor. Like Radner, Origen sees Judas’ role among the twelve as constructive in many ways. He goes forth with the seventy and cast out demons, heals the sick, and rejoices upon his return. Additionally, he is among the disciples who react with frustration at the request the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, makes of Jesus, that her sons sit on his right and left when he comes into his glory. Origen writes that “while he was among the indignant, the devil had not yet put it into his heart to betray the Lord. He was still one of the apostles.”
So Judas’ apostleship was legitimate and true, and he was faithful–except when he wasn’t. And isn’t this like so many of us? And Jesus knew who would betray him, and yet he gave Judas a chance. The how of this is a mystery–we could go far into the weeds about what God’s foreknowledge means for human choice and freedom, and we could likewise discuss the different ideas about what exactly Jesus’ foreknowledge means, that is, how his divinity interacts with the limits of his humanity–but we’ll leave those for another time. The key for us today is that Jesus knew, and yet he still put it all in Judas’ hands. He somehow had hope for Judas, and called him anyway, knowing how he would fail.
And this is good news for us. Because each of us fail. Each of us, if we’re honest, could see ourselves in this passage from John: “Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him” (John 6:64). Who among us has never doubted? Who has never struggled with disbelief? Who has never betrayed their core convictions, their better angels–who has not at some point looked around to find themselves a betrayer of Jesus, dead in their sin?
And yet, Jesus did not simply choose Peter who would come to repent and return, or Judas who would betray him and see no room for reconciliation or restoration, Jesus chose you and me. Jesus has hope for us. Jesus gives us the space we need. And what we do with it, is on us, but not on us alone. Jesus isn’t going to force us, but God’s grace in Jesus Christ is with us every step of the way. That’s part of what it means to abide in Jesus’ love. It means to experience the grace of God and to therefore await with hope and eager longing for the fulfillment of God’s will in our own lives, and in the life of the world.
God gives us the space we need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. And the question arises, why doesn’t God just save us all. Why couldn’t God save Judas? The humble answer is to say that not only could God, but God still might. But another aspect of humility is to admit that God may not. We are not the first to ask these questions. The great preacher and Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostom wrote about this and said:
“Why then, you say, was He Who won over [many sinners] not able to win over His disciple? He had the power to win over His disciple, but He did not wish to make him good by force or to forcibly draw him to Himself. Then [he] went. In this “went” there is not a little matter for contemplation: for he was not summoned by the chief priests, he was
not constrained or forced. Rather, of himself and of his own accord, he gave birth to his intention and brought forth his treachery, without any counselor in his wickedness.”
The mystery in all of this is that Jesus embraced people he knew would disbelieve him, question him, and even betray him. He embraced them, empowered them, taught them, and made them part of his ministry and his body. And this is good news for us, because God does the same thing for us in Christ.
In last week’s sermon I emphasized the importance that we never put our ultimate trust or faith in any human or human institution, including the Church, but only in God, only in Jesus Christ. If that sermon seemed a bit dark to some, this is the counterpart to it. Counterpart, but not counterpoint. They aren’t contradictory, though we would like to make them so. The reality is that our call to follow Jesus is risky. We are called to Love God and love our neighbor. That is Jesus’ summary of all the law and the prophets. That’s risky business that we’ve been commanded to take part in. Loving God can be risky–we never know what God is going to call us to do after all–but the riskiest thing about loving God is the call to love our neighbors. Loving other people is dangerous. Trusting other people can set us up for disappointment. This is one of the core places, I believe, where we have to embody Jesus’ admonition to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. We never lose sight of our own sinfulness, our own capacity for evil. And we all have it. The sin that temps me may not be the sin that temps you, but we are all tempted to sin, and from time to time–perhaps from time to time to time–we succumb to temptation. Usually, if we’re honest, those sins have hurt someone, or would if they knew. Being humble and keeping in mind our own propensity to sin, can help us relinquish judgement we might hold over other people, but it will also keep us mindful that indeed, Jesus is the one in whom we’re to trust. That the Church has to establish safeguards, and we would be wise to as individuals as well. And yet. It’s risky, because we’re called to hope in other people whom we know to be sinful, whom we know to be broken, whom we know to be apt to wound us if we love them.
And we’re nonetheless commanded to love them.
There’s only one way we can ever hope to accomplish this–to hold on to the reality of our own sin and the sinfulness of others, while simultaneously extending to them the same benefit of the doubt, the same grace that God has extended to us–and here we work back to the beginning of our gospel text–the only way we can do this is by abiding in Christ. By putting our faith and trust and hope in Jesus, and by receiving again and again the grace of God in the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, by hearing over and over again the word of God that inspires us, and calls us to faithfulness. I love the word abide. It can simply mean to dwell, or it can mean to patiently endure, ore it can mean to await with anticipation. When we abide in Christ, there are going to be things that we can only patiently endure. We re going to await the coming of Christ with holy anticipation. This is what we’re called to, for Christ to dwell in us and we in him. This is what empowers us to take the risks we need to take on each other as Christian.
Even though Jesus knows perfectly, he withholds judgement and gives all the disciples–even Peter and even Judas–an opportunity to walk faithfully and to do good. If God, who knows perfectly what is in all hearts, provides such space, how much more should we who judge only in our limited capacities, by what our eyes see or our ears hear, provide such space to each other? But we can only find the strength and the means to do this, to take such a risk on each other, and for our own growth in faithfulness, by abiding in Christ, and through Christ abiding in us. Amen.
I am fond of William Blake, both his poetry and engraving work/painting. On the good side, some amateur sleuths have located the exact spot of William Blake’s grave, the original marker having been moved when the cemetery where he and his wife were buried was restored, and a portion of it turned into a park, as part of the recovery from the blitz in World War II.
This is the marker that was placed after the restoration. It was placed some distance from the actual grave site. My assumption is, however, that it resembles the original grave stone, or perhaps combines the two grave stones of William and his wife.
Now, there’s the irksome part–at least to me–and I wonder if I’m alone in this. Below is the new marker just installed at the actual site of Blake’s grave:
Two things stand out to me, both of which bother me at least a bit. First, and most significant: his wife is not included in the marker. Granted, this was to honor Blake’s literary and artistic achievements, but if they found his grave, one assumes they may have also found his wife’s. Usually couples are buried close to one another, if not side by side or even in the same grave (one atop the other). The earlier marker noted that fact. It bothers me that Catherine is excluded from this one.
Secondly, I know folks sometimes refer to Blake as “prophetic” because of his work and the mythos he constructed in his work. But by what authority is the title “Prophet” applied on this monument with the same certainty as poet and artist?
Also, it just occurred to me: a poet is a species of artist, as is painter. The post-restoration marker was also correct in that realm as well.
UPDATE: Some friendly folks on Twitter pointed me to some resources that pointed out that Blake and his wife were not buried next to one another. Instead, she was buried several meters away from him. Also, the marker that was moved was evidently placed closer to the original grave site in the 1920s, while Blake’s original grave was unmarked.
At the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church we have considered over 500 resolutions, most of them in the last two days, as the discussions of possible prayer book revision and what provision would be made for bishops who disagree with the allowance for same-sex marriage rites throughout the church, as well as the budget, took up the bulk of the time of the House of Deputies. That means that a great many resolutions must be passed on what is known as “the consent calendar.” This provides a means for resolutions to be considered en masse and for convention to concur with the recommendation of the particular committee that has been working with the resolution. In effect it prevents things that are thought to be boiler plate, necessary, or uncontroversial, from being considered by 800+ people at once (and you thought vestry meetings were difficult).
I wanted to highlight some of the resolutions that find significant that have been passed through the consent calendar at convention.
These are not the only significant resolutions that were passed on those days. I have focussed on resolutions wherein the church has taken some action, or committed itself to take some action, as opposed to resolutions, however good, that encouraged other bodies (governments, agencies etc.) to take action.
Day 1: None
A034 Supporting General Convention Children’s Program
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the General Convention commends and supports the General Convention Children’s Program, and continues to direct funding to include the youngest of God’s children in our work together.
A030 Small Evangelism Grants
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the General Convention directs the Executive Council to implement small grants program to encourage local
parishworshiping community and diocesan evangelism efforts; and be it further
Resolved, That the sum of $100,000 shall be allocated for this grant program.
A196 Fund a Full-time Evangelism Staff Officer
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention affirm the initiative of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council in the creation of and funding for a full-time Evangelism Officer to serve on the Presiding Bishop’s staff; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourage Program, Budget, and Finance to maintain the sum of $380,000, as currently allocated in the draft budget proposed by the Executive Council for this position.
A109 Create Task Force on Sexual Harassment
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares that sexual harassment of adults by clergy, church employees and church members are abuses of trust, a violation of the Baptismal Covenant, contrary to Christian Character, and are therefore wrong; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church establish a Task Force on Sexual Harassment to be appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to prepare a Model Policy for Sexual Harassment of Adults for Dioceses, including parishes, missions, schools, camps, conference centers and other diocesan institutions. It shall be the duty of the Task Force to study, educate, develop curriculum, and propose and promulgate model policy and standards of conduct on different forms of harassment, and to advise the Church as resource persons. The membership of the Task Force is to be representative as to gender, race and ethnic diversity and should include lawyers whose practice covers this area of law or who serve or have served as chancellors for a diocese or church, human resource professionals, educators for adults, and those experienced in the prevention of sexual harassment. Approximately one-third of the members of the Task Force shall be clergy. The
CommitteeTask Force will report to the 80th General Convention and include as part of its report a Model Policy for Sexual Harassment of Adults for Dioceses and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $50,000 for the work of the Task Force.
D031 Recognizing and Ending Domestic Violence in our Congregations
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church continue to speak out clearly against all forms of domestic violence as it has done in the past; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourages Episcopal clergy and congregations to educate themselves on the widespread problem that domestic violence is in their churches, neighborhoods and beyond; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge all Episcopal Bishops and other clergy and lay leadership to familiarize themselves with the international and multi-lingual resources provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, White Ribbon, and other local resources, as well as existing trainings developed for domestic violence prevention, and create procedures for supporting domestic violence survivors in their dioceses and congregations; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge the Church at every level to examine its response to domestic violence, especially its response to survivors of domestic violence.
Day 5 (no consent calendar)
A223 Family Leave Policies
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention acknowledges the need for a well-defined, comprehensive family leave policy, paid and/or unpaid; and be it further
Resolved, That the appropriate joint standing committee of the Executive Council be directed to study and distribute model policies for paid and unpaid family leave for dioceses and their congregations and institutions to consider, with such models to be distributed to the dioceses by June 30, 2019; and be it further
Resolved, That General Convention urge every diocese to review such model policies and to implement comprehensive policies on family leave that fit their respective needs; and be it further
Resolved, That in view of the time required for study and actions by diocesan conventions, dioceses report their specific policies to the Office of General Convention no later than December 31, 2020.
D061 Develop an Episcopal Gap Year Program
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church direct the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, especially the Office of Global Partnership and the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries, to conduct a pilot development of an Episcopal Gap Year Program in international mission for young adults, ages 18-23, who are between high school and other educational or vocational pursuits; and be it further
Resolved, That the program be guided by innovative models of such programs, including but not limited to the Young Adult Service Corps, and that it ensure accessibility to racial and ethnic minorities, to persons from non-U.S.-domestic dioceses, and to persons of limited financial means; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage dioceses and congregations to recruit young adults to participate in the Gap Year Program and to support them with fund-raising assistance; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider a budget allocation of $90,000 for the 2019-2021 triennium in order to develop the Episcopal Gap Year Program.
A032 Congregational Redevelopment
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention requests that the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies in consultation with the Church Center staff create a church-wide Community of Practice that works with
up to one hundred (100)congregations and their bishops to help them redevelop to better engage the cultural realities of their communities for the sake of launching new ministries and multi-cultural missional initiatives; and be it further
Resolved, That the Communications Office be directed to make a priority of reporting on the stories of redeveloped congregations on an ongoing basis through news media, video, and other means and through developing
a websiteonline resources that provide sdetailed information about the redevelopment efforts happening throughout the church; and be it further
Resolved, That the cost of this initiative will be equally shared by the church-wide budget, participating dioceses and redeveloping congregations; and be it further
Resolved, That the presiding officers appoint a task force to coordinate this initiative in collaboration with Church Center staff. That task force may be combined with a task force on Church Planting and Missional Initiatives at the discretion of the presiding officers; and be it further
Resolved, That the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider a budget allocation of $725,000 during the triennium for the implementation of this resolution.
Some friends and colleagues of mine joined together to work on a memorial to the 79th General Convention. A memorial is like a petition or an important statement. It is not voted on at Convention, but is referred to the appropriate committee of Convention to guide their deliberations. I’m told a few bishops appreciated our work, so it may be referenced in their deliberations or conversations somehow.
General Convention can become overwhelming and confusing even to the most seasoned participant after few days. Even if bishops and deputies who have come many times are better able to find their way to the right committee, or to follow the flow of business in legislative sessions, after a while, new participants and old begin to show the same sort of stunned demeanor. One learns to treat convention as a sort of river that carries you along, while at the same time watching for those moments when you need to break out of the current in order to address something of significance to you or for which you have specific responsibility.
The progress of technology has in some ways lessened the complications of legislation, while simultaneously making it possible to take more actions on a piece of legislation in the time allotted. Another consequence of the advancement of technology is that General Convention has become less closed to the observations of those Episcopalians and other Christians who are not deputies, but who nonetheless wish to remain informed. Live streaming brings the deliberations of both the Houses of Convention to them, and Twitter and Facebook allow them to converse with one another and with deputies on the floor about what is happening. I believe this evolution is, when taken on the whole, a good thing, and it sometimes yields tangible results.
A recent result of such electronic collaboration is A Memorial to the 79th General Convention regarding liturgical language. This memorial began life as a proposed resolution written primarily by Father J. Wesley Evans, with significant input from the Rev. Dr. Kara Slade. Wesley, Kara, and I are involved in online forums together, and as they worked on their resolution, they sought out those of us who were deputies to determine what we thought of their proposal, and whether any would submit it.
In our discussions we determined that a resolution, given the timing and the other obligations those of us who are deputies had, would be a difficult sell to the House of Deputies. We were also aware that many of the premises in the memorial are considered so basic, and that any revisions to our liturgies, or crafting of new liturgies, would necessarily presuppose them.