Archive for March, 2018

Going Through the Motions

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Going through the motions.

That is, after all, what clergy do much of their time. They have church rituals, of course, but also routine meetings and receptions and lunches and dinners, and never-ending paperwork.

Most of us like the routine, even though it can feel burdensome. Paperwork is generally predictable, while pastoral crises aren’t.

Holy Week especially asks us to go through the motions. For eight days, from Palm Sunday through Easter, we do almost exactly the same things we did last year. Sermons will be new, but the rituals will be generally the same.

I recall a friend who had retired from the rectorship of a busy parish saying that what he missed most from his previous life was the “dailiness.” I also appreciate the routine and give thanks for it. —J. Douglas Ousley


Hearty Thanks

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Poet and Church Times columnist Malcolm Guite recently praised the “full English” of the traditional Book of Common Prayer liturgies.

I share his particular love of the General Thanksgiving in our Morning Prayer Rite I. Granted, the language borders on the archaic. Few of us would offer “humble and hearty thanks” to God except when we are praying this prayer.

Yet, as Guite notes, the word “hearty” could connote a sumptuous breakfast, and thus we can think of ourselves as giving thanks for everything across the board: “all the blessings of this life.” Guite also notes the other “alls” in the prayer: “all mercies,” “all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men,” “all honor and glory.” There is no doubt of the amount of gratitude we are expressing!

I know it’s hopelessly out of date; this prayer and others like it will be excluded from the next Prayer Book. But I’m going to enjoy this prayer while I can. —J. Douglas Ousley


GC 2018–Does Anyone Care?

Monday, March 12th, 2018

At a clergy luncheon today, I asked my colleagues what the issues were for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church that is having its triennial meeting this summer. My question was met with blank stares and a quick change of the topic.

Given the vast amounts of money spent on air fares, hotels, and meals for the Convention (16 delegates and alternates plus three bishops and staff just from the Diocese of New York alone), one would hope that the meeting would consider topics of importance to the Church. There will be some debate about liturgical revision, I know, and I’m sure there will be many political resolutions.

But it will be interesting to see if anything substantive is done to try to address the continuing decline in membership in the Church (and the resulting diminution in income and closing of churches.)

Outreach usually means service in our church. That’s to the good. But a shot of evangelism would be timely as well. —J. Douglas Ousley