Skip to comments.Freeper Report on Second Day of "Plano East" in Northern Virgina
Posted on 01/10/2004 6:05:26 PM PST by ahadams2
Today was started with a wonderful historical service in the Episcopal Church, Morning Prayer. This daily office is said daily by Priests in our Church and we don't celebrate it often enough in the Church. There are times I wish every Eucharist started with Morning Prayer as did the Cathedral of my childhood.
Opening comments were again delivered by The Rev. John Guernsey of All Saints, Dale City, who welcomed us to a thoughtful consideration of today's speakers.
The day was a composite of panels presenting varius topics for our consideration. The call to Orthodoxy was a thread throughout them all, and amazingly so, since they were given different topics with the instruction "Come up with 3 questions" - which most followed and answered with Biblical text, or song, or with Anglican precendent or history, or a call to remain strong, that those who have embraced the results of GC 2003 have LEFT the Church; that WE are the Church.
The final panel of the day included a young man from Chrsit the Redeemer who delivered an impassioned plea for us to remember who we are, and to get on with the central tenet of our faith - doing the work Jesus has us on earth to do. This from one so young with almost stinging words, was received with a standing ovation followed by prayer for all those 22 and younger. Hands were laid on those who were in attendance by groups of those around them, and prayer was spontaneous and repentant for having ignored the future of the Church, our youngsters.
The theme throughout today was ever constant - do the work that Jesus sent us here to do, and the "business of the Church", how we will align will come out of that but not at the sake of it.
The Rev. Canon Martyn Minns summed this up at the end, giving as the parallel stories of "Tex", "Ruth" and "Emily" - redemptive inclusivity, radical transformation. Redeeming work done at the risk of reaching out to the unclean, unwashed and outcast, but because they received the love of Christ through one of us, they came to believe in God, accepted his son as the living Christ, and whose lives were radically transformed as a result.
Today, whether is was epistomological, historical, analytical, musical or rhetorical, the love of Jesus and the focus on Him was made clear. Over and over, we were urged to place our faith in the Bible, the Trinity, and get on with getting on. These discussions interspersed with prayer and then with song, drove the message deep: There is hope, there is life in this Church (us) afterall; there is meaning to all of this when we keep our eyes on the one who came to earth to show us how it's done, and that mission - the kind of mission that evolves out of each and every one of us, is central to our existence because living the great commission is more important than living the social life of meaningless Sunday Church services.
With the focus back on Jesus, with the emphasis on mission and service, there was a release of anxiety over "where do we go, what do we do now" which morphed instead into "this is what we do, this is how we proceed", we keep doing the work of Jesus and the mechanics of our Anglican Communion here in America will be worked out. Time will help us work this out. The pressure to see something, almost anything happen NOW was released into peace and patience and committment to doing the work on earth that God has for us to do.
When I entered the building this Morning, I wondered how I would ever feel peace, ever feel contentment in being an Episcopalian in America. As the day progressed, any anxiety or pressure to have something resolved today or even tomorrow faded away, in to the certainty that our leadership is pursuing with all alacrity that which would make us central to Anglicanism, without worrying about splitting off from or or splitting up ECUSA. Who knew where this would end today? With teenagers performing skits that showed the peer pressure they could face about "that homosexual Bishop thing" which the central character worked out to be the issue of Biblical authority rather than a homosexual issue.
A fantastic witness was given by a man who is involved in a ministry to those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle, as he told us his story and let us see the pain of what he experienced, followed by the healing and love and wholeness that Jesus has called him into. It was one of the most powerful testimonies of God's mercy and grace I think I've ever heard. Like all of us, his is a process of healing, but also like us, one that he has recognized the choices he has to make and the fight he has to wage daily. This is simply and remarkably, the kind of healing and wholeness that God calls us all into.
In the theme of the day, I have 3 questions.
What did I like best? The singing. No, the panels. No, the skits the teenagers did. No, the stories Canon Minns told. No, the congregational prayer we were led in, in small groups. Okay, I liked everything.
Starting with the Festival Eucharist last night, to the Morning Prayer, panel discussions, congregational prayer, group prayer, teenager skits, each had a part to play in the fabric of the day that wove us to the final conclusion - we can retain our rich Anglican heritage by standing firmly on the word of God and doing His work.
What did I Learn? I learned that we aren't headed to some major schism, leaving consecrated property, splitting parishes apart, abandoning Priest's and Bishop's retirement monies, and introducing incredible amounts of doubt. We can continue with who we are, claiming the Biblical authority that we have, and making some requests about our future that will progress slowly, with thought and with care (and with legal help!).
What touched me most? Two things. One, the availability of the Priests and Bishops, to talk with us - at breaks, at lunch, after the last session. With so many white collars around, people could approach them and ask them their most burning concern. If they didn't feel something had been answered for them (most likely, it just hadn't been answered yet), they could address it with the nearest Priest. I thought this openness and availability was spectacular. No pedestals, or barriers to questions here.
Second, the pace of the day. I don't know how they did it, but the time from 8 AM to 4:30 PM just flew by, but instead of feeling like it whizzed past, there was this sense of accomplishment, of peace, of contentment, of renewed passion for ministry. I wanted to thank the heretical Bishops who voted for the consecration of the errant Bishop in NH,to say a loud "thank you". Why? Because bringing this many of us together in No. VA was a treat. The comfort of familiar liturgy, the rhythem of treasured hymns and songs, the cadence of the leaders' prayers, the assurance of steadfastness in our faith through humorous stories and Biblical quotes led to a peacefulness that our denomination is not teetering on the precipice of destruction, but instead is focusing on a new emphasis, a call to righteousness. A call of faithfulness.
No matter what you call us, we are Episcopalians.
One final note. I heard two different numbers for attendance today. From the panels, from the introductions by The Rev. Crocker, an Assistant at Truro, I heard 3000 several times. From someone who did the computer print out for name badges, I heard the number 3275.
So, let's just call it 3000+. Quite a turnout in this busy No. VA area where there was suppostion that "not many would bother showing up". 3275 people bothered to show up, and were rewarded for it.
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And a good time was had by all, we can sing and dance, and best of all, we don't lose our buildings.
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