Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done

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A few days ago, I went to see the newly released movie “Just Mercy.” It is an inspiring film based on the true story of Walter McMillian, an African American man on death row unjustly convicted of killing a white woman in 1986, and his defense attorney, Bryan Stevenson. With this narrative fresh in my mind and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday just around the corner, I cannot help but reflect on the evil of racism. I share some of my thoughts with you.

First, despite all our good values, racism is real and a disease parasitically growing on the roots of this nation. Tragically, it was present from the beginning in seventeenth century colonial Jamestown where the cultures and skin colors of English settlers, Angolan slaves, and Pamunkey Native Americans clashed, as well as our own day where the concept of white nationalism has once again reared its ugly head.

Secondly, racism is a sin and like all disobedience to God’s ways can only be forgiven through repentance and amendment of life. This notion of confessing racism is expressed well in our worship when “we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us” (BCP 331). “Amendment of life,” where we go from here, is not simple but crucial to my understanding of a Christian response to the call for racial reconciliation.

In this regard, I commend to you an event this Sunday, January 19 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., at St. Christopher’s Church in Dallas. Sponsored by St. Christopher’s and Church of the Good Shepherd, there will be a special reading and discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “Where Do We Go from Here?”

Thirdly, although the dismantling of racism has political ramifications of great consequence, it is also a spiritual matter. God’s eschatological vision for creation can be seen in the last book of the Bible where “people from every nation, race, tribe, and language” worship God together as a community of saints (Revelation 7:9 NJB).

Again, from the Book of Common Prayer: “Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life” (BCP 331). May God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


Consultation Report: ‘Communion and Disagreement’ hosted by TLC, VTS, Texas, and Dallas

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Consultation Report: ‘Communion and Disagreement’ hosted by TLC, VTS, Texas, and Dallas
It is high praise that, after many years of wrangling, this event shed new light for me about our intra-Anglican debates. I want to share some of this light on our path together.
  • Professor Sonderegger, of VTS exhorted us to consider anew the Windsor Report. She agreed with it that the debate is not a ‘matter indifferent,’ nor may it be reduced to ‘context’ She wondered if we might not think of it as a truly theological debate, a ‘difference of the schools’ as in Roman Catholic history.  (Of course the need to make liturgical decisions, in matters of real moral disagreement, as Professor Wes Hill, pointed out, makes this tack more difficult.)
  • Running through the consultation is the possible distinction from the Primates of walking together, but closely vs. at a distance. (Christopher Wells’ paper stressed this idea). If this is so, then might analogies from ecumenism fit those latter relations? In these cases we recognize one another as fellow baptized Christians, but with nuance. Wells pointed out that this was true of St. Augustine’s view of even the heretical Donatists.
  • All of this highlighted our fruitfully anomalous circumstance: those in CP would live out this possibility of walking together as a Communion but at a distance, but close up with our fellow Episcopalians. This makes us, though we be few, a complicated and ‘interesting’ group in the Communion.
  • The C of E’s ecumenical officer, Jeremy Worthen, distinguished between apostolic communion (is the other body a Church?), ecclesial (can we share our common life fully?), and issues short of either. The distinctions may help us imagine differentiated communion.
  • The point of my paper was simply that John Henry Newman with his concept of development of doctrine and its tests had the right question, and that pursuing such a discernment requires patience and making room for the traditional view on the part of our own Church. peace +GRS



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Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.