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Jesus

While I will be here and preaching at St. James’ this Sunday (July 1), next week and for the next ten days, I’ll be covering the General Convention of the Episcopal Church again, which meets every three years -- this year in Indianapolis -- from July 4 through July 12. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the last four General Conventions as an issues writer for the Diocese of Virginia’s daily publication called The Center Aisle.

Our days while covering General Convention are long and full. But at night, when the stories are written and the publication is put to bed, but before we put ourselves to bed, I often join others for a late dinner.

One evening during the General Convention in Anaheim, there were five or six of us at the dinner table, enjoying our pre-dinner drinks, and the waiter -- who recognized us as customers the past three or four evenings in a row -- asked,

“What convention are you with?”

One of us said, “The Episcopal Church.”

He said, “Oh, that’s great! We love having you all here… last month there were a bunch of Christians here…”

Sigh.

I know what he was saying: we were fun, we enjoyed our cocktails, we seemed open-minded... heck, almost like regular people.

How sad that in his mind -- as in the minds of many of those in their 20s and 30s -- “fun, regular, expansive, open-minded, joyful” is a contradiction with “Christian.”

His comment touched a nerve with me. Something I’ve noticed over the years is that in many Episcopalians’ reaction against the dour, aggressive, judgmental “religionist” attitudes that we don’t like, we’ve become reluctant to claim the name “Christian” as our own, or to say the name “Jesus” very often, for fear of being tagged as “one of them.”

But as I said in my sermon this past Sunday, the Episcopal Church is just that: a Church.

It’s a community which has Jesus at its center -- it is not a political movement (of the right or of the left) with a specific cause (or enemy) at its center.

Yes, Jesus at our center. I heard someone say at a recent gathering of young clergy: “How could I have gone to church my whole life and not heard about this man Jesus?”

“Jesus” -- plain old “Jesus,” not substituted by the supposedly more safe “Christ” or qualified by “Jesus Christ” -- is a term -- a Name -- that I refuse, and we as Episcopalians, should refuse, to surrender.

We are Episcopalians; we are Christians; we love Jesus; we take our Bibles seriously. That we come to different conclusions than many other of our brothers and sisters in Christ on the role of women in full leadership positions and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of church does not mean anyone else is the legitimate owner of the Bible. And we have every bit as much right as any other Christians to terms like “orthodox,” “historical,” and “Bible-believing.”

And to the Name that is above every name: Jesus.

Comments

  1. I wonder -- what if they saw more OF Jesus (how we live our faith) and heard less ABOUT Jesus ("you must repent and believe or go to hell")? I am Episcopalian but I'm also Christian. If I want people to hear what I say and have to identify myself, it gives me more of a chance to be heard whereas if I say "Christian", right off the bat some start to put up their defenses and don't hear what I say. So maybe I just need to show them first?

    Good post. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, I agree with the blogger. In our reaction to fundamentalism and bibliolatry; in our concern with "growing the Church"; we have somehow drifted away from the proclamationl, "Jesus is Lord!" Thank you for this blog post.

    ReplyDelete

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