Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Only Way Forward Is Together

"The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

Yesterday, our presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, opened our church's General Convention in Anaheim, CA, with these words about the environmental, financial and other crises facing our Church and world.

If you are looking for a connection between what will happen at that convention and our life here at Christ Church Cathedral, you can find it in those words.

The crises they are struggling with there are the ones we struggle with here. And the way forward in both places lies in offering our lives to Christ -- together.

Yesterday, the Program, Budget and Finance Committee heard pleas to put the 0.7% line item for the Millennium Development Goals back in the church budget ... to put care for the poorest in the world first. But where is the money to come from?

We struggle with the same thing. I dream of a Cathedral where 50% of our budget is spent on outreach -- where we give as much away as we keep for ourselves. But where is the money to come from? How do we get from here to there?

There is no silver bullet or easy answer. But scripture and our experience tells us that the road from here to there is one we must travel together. That it is together on that road that we will encounter Christ, and that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus we will have a clue when we do because we will be and feel different -- our hearts will burn inside us.

We are taking those first steps on this new phase of our journey down that road right now. Through the new summer Sunday schedule and the conversations about the new 9 am worship and the "Coffee & Conversations" and even this e-newsletter, we are meeting each other -- in some cases for the first time -- not just as fellow parishioners but as friends and travel partners.

Even now, I can see our first response to conflict shifting from writing a reactive email or seeking out someone we know will agree with us in the parking lot to saying "we need to talk" ... and putting the conflict on the table where we can search for Christ's wisdom together.

In concluding her remarks yesterday, the Presiding Bishop said:

"This crisis is a decision point, one which may involve suffering, but it is our opportunity to choose which direction we’ll go and what we will build. We will fail if we choose business as usual. There will be cross-shaped decisions in our work, but if we look faithfully, there will be resurrection as well."

What is true in Anaheim is true in St. Louis. We can't choose business as usual. The ways of being the Cathedral that worked in decades past -- decades of which we have wonderful memories -- won't work anymore. We need to be bold and try new ways to engage the world with the Gospel and engage ourselves with it more deeply as well.

And we can do it.

We can be bold and fearless. We can be honest about our struggles with the claim our faith puts on our own lives and loving in calling each other to be our best selves. We can reach out to the world around us with a height of compassion matched only by the height of praise we give to God in our worship.

We can do all these things. And we will, with God's help.

IF ...we do them together.


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