Friday, June 18, 2010

Walker Lake, Resilience In Reno, & How To Be The Church

On Monday, Walker Lake was perfectly still, reflecting the mountains and sky the way a serene soul reflects Christ. We were driving past Walker Lake after having flown from Reno to Las Vegas at the crack of dawn to load up our car with the rest of our belongings destined for Sparks. It was surreal, going to bed in Sparks two nights in a row, but with a plane flight and a long drive in between. That’s what I do with a day off. :-)

It had been a good Sunday at Trinity, Reno – a flagship congregation that has been through a lot of change and disruption these past few years. I was impressed by their resiliency and the energy in the room – the lay and ordained leadership and the people in the pews. They sang the hymns, said the responses – worshiped right out loud. Of course, they have the cutest family service anywhere. Then the principle service was blessed with a first class choir that is not too stuffy to get down as we said in the 70’s – I’m not sure what we say now – but they do it.

Saturday had been another Roving Workshop at St. Paul’s, Sparks on Orders of Ministry. Many Nevada Episcopalians have the notion that there are two diametrically opposed models for how to be the church and we are torn between them. I hope these workshops can help us recognize two things: 1. Neither of those models actually exists anywhere in our diocese today. 2. Neither of those models fits the ancient or contemporary Church’s understanding of our shape, our mission, or the nature of God.

I hope one basic insight will emerge from those two facts: A few general principles make up a broad outline of how to be the church. It is a deep and ancient wisdom – but the way the general principles are lived out in each local community is up to that community. Congregations have the freedom to be creative, innovative, and adaptive. We are here to connect people with Jesus “by any means necessary.” These workshops do not say“this is the way to do it” but rather "these are the resources you can use as you find your way."

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