Friday, July 06, 2007

And don't forget to fold your napkin ...

The Presiding Bishop is at it again.

Now she's tackling why the heck we have missionaries or why the heck we are committed to evangelism, or why the heck anyone should seek to be baptized - heaven's to betsy - but believe me, it has nothing to do with the saving of the human soul or being redeemed or eternal life. Heck no.

In fact, it has nothing to do with heck, er, hell and everything to do with just being nice. Just be nice. La di da. No sign of martyrs or preaching the Gospel in season and out, or prison, or sacrifice, or going where angels fear to tred, or even just picking up one's cross and, well, any sort of that icky stuff. And let's not talk about rowdy stuff like conversion, parish, er perish the thought, because it's so, well - rude. After all, no one needs to be converted to go to a tea party.

This is indeed "tea cup evangelism" - and baptism is just some sort of "initiation rite," like flying up in Girl Scouts. No one wants to be forced to be a Girl Scout, after all. Sometimes we just try out Brownies and call it a day. Or perhaps it is more like a tea party and anyone who is sensible will know we have the best tea in town. So be nice about it - and share your tea bags.

It's in that sort of spirit that we find Katharine Jefferts Schori giving the old send-off to missionaries and talking about The Great Commission - which turns into some sort of Miss Manners Moment. This is quite a contrast to this guy giving his two cents worth for missionaries, or this guy, or even this guy, or this woman, and while we're at it how about this woman, or even this guy - but oh, what the hell. We're sending a carton of Earl Grey posthaste to ElfGirl, where ever she may be.

So take your tea cup, don't smash it, mind your manners, and remember to fold your napkin in your lap.

Here's an excerpt. You can read the rest here.

UPDATE: You can read more about "Belching the Gospel" here.

Should we, shall we, impose that on those who do not fully desire it? Maybe it would be helpful to recognize that baptism is not the goal, but rather relationship with God (or discipleship). We understand that to be a relationship in God's Word, whom we call Christ. Our evangelical work has more to do with the gracious recognition of God already at work in the world about us than it does with imposing our will on others. When Jesus says "make disciples," that has a great deal to do with inviting others into relationship with the God we know, particularly as we know God in Christ. I do not believe it has anything to do with forcible or manipulative conversion. It has more to do with showing and telling, through word (Word) and deed, what it is like to know the gift of that relationship -- to demonstrate the unutterable attractiveness of that relationship so that another can not imagine anything more desirable. I do not believe it has anything to do with instilling or playing on human fear (which is, after all, one of the things we renounce in baptism). How might our evangelical work be different if we began with the disciple-making part (the befriending we know in Jesus) rather than counting coup in numbers of baptisms achieved? It is the latter that has given evangelism a bad name through the ages. My sense is that our evangelical work is likely to be more gracious if we focus on how our own lives exemplify the actions we claim in baptism -- washing, forgiving, welcoming, demonstrating Holy Spirit, entering into communion, living as a holy one of God. Our very lives can be baptism, living water, new life born out of death, to those around us ...

LATER: Contrast what Katharine Jefferts Schori says about evangelism with what this young English clergyman said last April. Why Jesus brings peace as nothing - and no one - else can.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Schori's type of tea is best thrown in the harbor. But then we'd have a problem with floating pollution.

Ann said...

You write so well and are obviousIy passionate about your faith, I find it interesting that you spend so much of your blog on The Episcopal Church. I thought you and your had left it behind - maybe time to shake the last grains of sand out of your shoes as per this week's advice from Jesus if you still follow the Episcopal lectionary?

Ann said...

uhoh - typo -- you and your church, I meant.

Anonymous said...

Ann, seems to me the Episcopal Church is the one leaving people behind. As a Catholic, I come to this site to read about a very passionate person of faith who seems deeply concerned about her Church. (And mildly obsessed with Bob and Harry as well.)

Kevin said...

Ann -- it would be easier if Beers Esq. did not make a tie that make the process last a little longer.

I've never been through a divorce, but I was not able to move on from fallen engagement until left alone, I let her have her space and move to find mine but like Beer, Esq. my ex decided to claim as well. I stood my ground on that one, at a cost, but was not able to shake the dust off my feet for two years after that even.

Friends at work who have gone through a divorce as not able to begin the process until all is final, even then it can be five years or so for all of it to play out.

You give wise advise but we must not forget the context and we should show mercy as individuals process [see my previous post on the subject a few days ago].

Peace be with you Ann,

Unknown said...

At this time, I'm an Episcopalian lay person in a CANA (one of the ACN Global Partners) church.

The Bishop of Virginia has not excommunicated any of the lay Episcopalians who are worshiping in CANA churches, though he has inhibited all the clergy (who have since transfered into other Anglican provinces).

It seems that the Episcopal Church would rather sue everyone than go back to the "conversation table" that the Diocese of Virginia set up in the first place.

As readers of this blog know, Ann, we trusted the Bishop of Virginia with his Protocol for Departing Churches (which my parish and the other Virginia churches followed)and his initial coordination to negotiate over the property (after all, it was his "Property Committe"). But it was the intervention of 815 (or as we might say here, we were "Umbridged") and the next thing we know (in a matter of days after appointing his Property Committee), the Bishop inhibits all the clergy, cancels all their health insrance, and sues 200 people.

I want to remain in the Anglican Communion - that is my hope and prayer. For now, I am still an Episcopalian in a divided denomination. The Episcopal Church leadership is frantically doing everything it can to deny there is division - but that doesn't change the facts that division has occurred. All one has to do is read the New York Times to see that this is so (see "Umbridgd" above).


Alice C. Linsley said...

Ann, I left the ECUSA priesthood and The Episcopal Church 2 years ago and have become Orthodox. That makes me an ex-Episcopalian as well as an Orthodox Christian. I shook the dust from my sandals, but that doesn't mean that I stopped caring about my fellow Christians who struggle in a denomination which has an heretical and spiritually arrogant leadership.

Ann said...

Thanks for explaining why you still write about what TEC is doing. Prayers for your journey.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is a split! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

the big secret that ECUSA doesn't want you to know is that the combined ASA of the Common Cause including Network Diocese and Parishes, AMIA and CANA is about 250,000 people, with non-transfer growth of about 5,000 people per annum.

The ASA of ECUSA (less network diocese and parishes)is only about 500,000, and it is declineing about 50,000 people per year.

Because Christians tithe, and ECUSAn's dont, the raw tithe income of ECUSA and the New Province are already equal

ECUSA has the investments, and still lots of properties. But the Christians have the people, and increasingly, the money!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Fascinating stats! The picture you provide is verified here in KY. The new Anglican church plant in Versailles is 3 years old and thriving. St. Andrew's Anglican Church (Church of Uganda) breaks ground on their new building this fall. Apostles (also Church of Uganda) doing well in Lexington. St. Patrick (AMiA) in Lexington also thriving. God is good!

Kevin said...

I'll report that in '04 when Rez moved out of homes into a Baptist church host there were 30 parishioner, we're pushing 300 and looking for a bigger space. Our first church plant has been meeting for three weeks now and FINALLY the N.Va folks had our first prayer meeting last Friday.

So that five years from its own conception to birthing daughter church plants for this one little AMiA start-up.

God is very good!