Showing items filed under “The Rt. Rev. George Sumner”

Boomer-ology

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As you may know, there is a debate anew about a revision of the BCP in the Episcopal Church. I think it's ill-conceived theologically, and we as a church have other fish we'd better get on with frying!  But there is another interesting issue one often hears about, which I want to focus on here, a generational one.  Basically, the revision is so very boomer, and we the soon-to-retire are out of touch and need to let it go. It's interesting since we imagine it to be the opposite, but that's rather boomer too, isn't it?

What is the evidence? First, there are younger Episcopalians who may be more progressive than I on social issues, but don't want revision either. A more traditional kind of worship is what attracted them. In addition to this evidence from the pews, there is evidence from the world of theology. The revisionists who mutter about softening atonement language failed to get the memo about the enormous popularity of a scholar like Rene Girard. Third, and finally, we can learn from sociology. A scholar like Mary Douglas taught us that incessant revision is not a sign of enlightenment but only of a rootless, mobile, commodified, spiritual equivalent of constantly rearranging your furniture. 

The job of the aging is to move over gracefully, the one thing which proves so hard for us Boomers. 

Peace,

+GRS

Are Sneakers a Sacrament? 

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How many sacraments are there? The answer was two because Communion and Baptism are mandated by Christ himself, hence “dominical” (though Luther in a certain mood included confession and absolution as a third). In the Middle Ages the catholic tradition settled on seven. Our prayer book splits the difference by considering the other five “sacramental.” But in the early Church the views were more fluid - is Sunday a sacrament? Or foot washing? Or the blessing of a grave?

If one sees the sacramental as the employment of physical things to bespeak Christ to us, because He is lord of both creation and redemption at once, then the point may be not so much how many, but rather how a genuinely sacramental vision, rooted in the dominical words, radiates out into more and more of our lives.  This really is the heart of catholic, and certainly eastern orthodox, spirituality. Read for example Alexander Schmemann's “For the Life of the World.” In the kingdom, he says, all creation will be a means of communion with Jesus Christ as the consecrated bread and wine now are. This does not obviate our need of the sacraments but expands their meaning. 

I think of this after our morning with Samaritans' Feet, which connects giving young people shoes with the dominical act we remember on Maundy Thursday. This model is true throughout the lives of our parishes. We grow into seeing more and more of our outreach and stewardship as “sacramental,” extending to home and work. There is found the true heart of a reformed and catholic spirituality.  

Peace, 

+GRS

 

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