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

Potter's House Revisited

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This blog was inspired by my visit to the pottery house at St. Peter’s, McKinney.  I was there to try to “throw a pot,” with the help of master potter, Steve Macia, on behalf of the program to support feeding programs called, Empty Bowls.

The potter, the wheel, and the clay, remind us of the great passage from the prophet Jeremiah where God makes it clear that we are His creation, the work of His hand, which He can do with as He wills, and reform to His purpose.  It challenges our presumption, and rightly so!

But the image is open to a second account (and doubtless others).  The potter is also like the apostle, teacher, mentor, priest.  For he or she must watch a master before beginning. It is as much an art of imitation as instruction.  And he or she must get a feel for the clay, the education being one of finding the proper angle, the point literally to press, the way to support while you shape lest the shape you are building up collapse. And it will go wrong, get a tough lopsided, and you may have to take it down and  build it up again. The center and floor must be right, and only then can you, by the constant and patient application of purpose, widen the space out, give it contour.  The pot must be shaped, and then it must withstand intense heat. It must be serviceable, and hardy, before it can be decorated,  And if all this goes wrong, the master can step in and get it back on track, wordlessly, without claim of credit, so that the outside world only sees the outcome, the pot, ours. 

All that, which I learned in a novice’s hour of working with the clay, comprises a complex parable about how being built-up in discipleship for Christ really takes place.

Peace,

+GRS

Fourfold Cord

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I was recently asked to speak to a congregation about the nature of Episcopalianism. As with many topics we do best to begin with reasons to beware of the topic. We are first of all, not members of something called “TEC,” but of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” in its wild diversity and shocking division. To be sure the Episcopal Church is the national expression of Anglican branch of that Church catholic. To begin thus with an account of us as “mere Christians” is, ironically, the most Anglican of moves. 

Once this has been said Anglicanism, flawed and wounded though it be, displays four persistent features which it does, and should, share with other Churches. Let me mark each with an illustrious name from our history. We are the Church of Bede, the historian of ancient English Christianity. (This corresponds to the catholic strain). By this I mean we are part of a continuous stream of the Church straight back to ancient times. 

We are the Church of Cranmer, which claims the Reformation insight of continuously putting Word, cross, and grace at the center. We are also the Church of Crowther, first African bishop and missionary for CMS, a sign that by God's providence we are a global and witnessing communion. By this, I mean we have inherited a share in the global communion of Anglicanism which was the fruit of vigorous missionary and evangelistic effort.  

And finally, we are the Church of Coleridge, artist, inquiring spirit, and orthodox Anglican, patron saint of the call faithfully to interrogate our faith. Every church is called to manifest all four in its life. 

You might say our faith, personal, local, and communal, always reaches back to apostolic roots, is centered in grace through Christ's sacrifice, reaches out is witness, and looks at itself, all in the interest of lifting all up to God in praise and thanksgiving. 

Peace,

 +GRS

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