Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Please find us at our new address http://liturgicalnerds.net
and update your links, RSS feeds, etc. accordingly.
You can still follow us at http://twitter.com/liturgicalnerds
Our official relaunch begins with Advent on November 29th, 2009--see you there!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Over at The Huffington Post, regular columnist Rev. Debra Haffner is writing about the commitment to celibacy and chastity for ordained clergypersons. I encourage you to read the entire article. The most interesting statement is where Rev. Haffner asserts that
it does not make sense to ask [ordained, single clergy] to give up adult sexual lives outside of the congregation.Once again, I'd like to make the distinction between being a grownup and being an adult. Adult means that you are old enough to do whatever you want; being grownup means you have the wisdom and self-discipline to exercise that ability appropriately. As Paul says,
‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Cor 6:12, NRSV)But there's more to it than that. I'd like to quote extensively a passage from Rowan Williams' Where God Happens (reviewed by Josh here), because I feel like it addressses this more substantially than I could.
A church that is simply recognizing different preferences is stuck at the level of individualism; the real work has not yet been done, the work that is the discovery of God's call beyond the simplistic "listening to the heart" that we all too readily settle for. This is a work that takes protracted, committed time, which is why the church is so much involved in blessing lifelong commitments--marriage, ordination, monastic life--not as a way of saying that everyone has to be involved in one or more of these but to remind all baptized believers that, because of their baptism, they are bound to the patient, long-term discovery of what grace will do to them. And it is a work that requires the kind of vulnerability to each other that can only come with the building up of trust over time, and the kind of silence that brings our fantasy identities to judgment. (p 67)I understand the rub. But you can't separate your sexuality from your spirituality; you can't take one covenant seriously and neglect the formation of another.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
An overemphasis on so-called spiritual or heavenly aspects eviscerates the power and import of faith. It turns us inward and enforces purity of life or experience as condition for grace. It also demarcates what is of God and what is not in a way that belies the Biblical witness. Rob Bell famously says, "Everything is spiritual." The material things of life are used by God throughout the Old Testament, Jesus in the New, and the Spirit in history to convey grace and life.
To treat God--Father, Son, or Holy Spirit--as that which can only be apprehended internally denies the importance and validity of Incarnation and Crucifixion, as well as the goodness of the Creation. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes, "By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see." May the sacredness of all things created, redeemed, and sanctified by God lead us further into the grace of Jesus.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
This issue is one which has plagued Methodism from its early days. The official teaching document adopted by the 2004 General Conference, This Holy Mystery, reminds us that:
"[John] Wesley was convinced that there could be no sacramental ministry without ordination as elder. This conviction ultimately determined his decision to perform ‘extraordinary’ ordinations himself...Under the terms of the Book of Discipline, several groups of people are authorized to preside at Eucharist in the charges to which they are appointed.... "Among these groups of people will be found the commissioned elder/provisional member, as illustrated by the current Discipline:
(This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion, as recorded in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2008, Resolution #8014, p. 991.)
"A provisional member preparing for ordination as an elder shall be licensed for pastoral ministry (¶ 315). "Theology of Commissioning and Ordination
(The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2008, ¶ 326.2.)
"Provisional elders...may be licensed by the bishop to perform all the duties of the pastor (¶ 340), including the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion...within and while appointed to a particular charge or extension ministry. For the purposes of these paragraphs the charge or extension ministry will be defined as ‘people within or related to the community or ministry setting being served.’ "
(The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2008, ¶ 316.1.)
These two paragraphs indicate the source of authority in a local church that is given to commissioned clergy and provisional elders: it stems from their license for pastoral ministry. Though their identity as clergy stems from the act of commissioning, they function as a licensed local pastor. This dichotomy will not be unified and cemented as a life-long part of their identity until ordination. Ordination is the act of the Spirit which gifts individuals for apostolic ministry; it also confers the authorization and blessing of the Church for a gospel ministry unbound by time or location.
However, licensing in the United Methodist tradition, whether in the transitional state of provisional membership & commissioning or for the long-term as a local pastor, is a recognition that the Spirit is still unfolding the gifts of ministry in an individual. Moreover, licensing for pastoral ministry only recognizes a local and temporary (rather than universal or “catholic,” and life-long) call.
The Limits of Sacramental Responsibility
I cannot find anywhere--neither in the paragraphs relating to the ministry of local pastors & provisional elders nor in the paragraphs relating to the responsibilities of bishops & district superintendents--a place where the current Discipline provides for the administration of the sacraments by those not ordained as an Elder anywhere other than in their appointment. Moreover, regardless of what may have been past practice, the current Discipline does not delegate authority on this matter to a person or group: no bishop, district superintendent, cabinet member, senior pastor, Board of Ordained Ministry, nor District Committee on Ministry may make such an authorization.
In the event that there might be a neglect of the Sacramental life of a congregation or assembly, This Holy Mystery suggests suitable alternatives: celebration by a bishop, district superintendent, elder serving in extension ministries, or retired elder. (cf. This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion, as recorded in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2008, Resolution #8014, p. 992; cf. Discipline ¶ 340.2.b & ¶ 344.3.a.) A desire to further the mission of the church would still have to follow the Disciplinary procedure to begin a new church community; we should treat the celebration of Holy Communion with at least equal regard, even when we desire to "spread scriptural holiness across the land."
There are other reasons—theological, ecclesiological, missional, and practical—why I believe that this continued occurrence is wrong. There may also be reasons to review our current practice and re-open the debate on our orders of ministry and theology of the Eucharist. But I submit that--whether it is in departing from the tradition of the entire Church (without sufficient cause), violating the unity of the Body of Christ by engaging in practices unrecognizable by our ecumenical brothers and sisters, neglecting to be aware of the current requirements in United Methodism, or deliberately refusing to submit to the Discipline--the rogue practice of asking or allowing provisional elders or local pastors to celebrate the Sacraments outside of their appointment is un-collegial, disobedient, and a failure of the Church.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Please note that these are all my own personal images, taken from the year I spent in Britain. If you'd like to use these on your not-for-profit blog or website, feel free; just please give credit: "Liturgical banners (c) Joshua W. Hale, 2009. Used by permission." Email me if you are interested in using them on any for-profit/monetized site or purpose.
And here they are:
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
See you in 140 characters!
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
You can also read Josh's thoughts on why this is important and how he got involved at
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
There's a lot of good stuff being generated on NASA's blogs, including my dad's own blog, if I can brag a bit. Read it at:
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
share what's there and why I'm reading it.
The Mystical Way of Evangelism
Picked this up at Refresh 08, and heard Elaine speak there as well.
It's excellent about kenotic faith as the center of evangelism.
Refreshing and invigorating. I want to know how to put it into
practice at the campus ministry & church.
Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman
Just finished this quirky, hilarious novel about the end of days. Best
parts: four horsemen and the friendship between the angel and the demon.
Reading this before strategic planning at campus ministry. Richey
wants to put extension ministry back at the heart of the Methodist
Connection. History + theology. So far a bit dry, but good information.
Why Go To Church?
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book this year. Radcliffe looks at
the service of word+table (RC Eucharist, actually) as it leads us thru
faith, hope, and love. Looking forward to the read this year.
After these, I'll be working on The Challenge of Jesus (N T Wright)
and Small Gods (Terry Pratchett).
Monday, February 02, 2009
The wicked boast
about their desires;
greedy for profit,
they curse the Lord.
They say with contempt,
"God does not care!
There is no God!"
They know their way to success;
your ways are beyond them.
They mock who-ever resists them.
They claim to be invincible,
beyond the reach of misfortune.
Their mouths breed
curses, lies, and violence;
trouble and deceit
hide under their tongues. (ICEL)
Was this written just this past fall, when financial institutions were crumbling and crushing employees, families, organizations as they fell? It seems like it. A damning indictment of human nature if I ever read one.
And the fundamental problem is something inherent in all of us: our greed, our contempt, our lack of consideration of others...which goes unchecked by any moral compass or sense of ethics that has God as its foundation. "There is no God! God doesn't care!" I don't know if these words were spoken in boardrooms or hearing rooms or offices...but they might as well have been for all the now-exposed practices that left no room for compassion or rectitude.
Any true, living connection with God, deeply rooted in Christian tradition (or for that matter Muslim or Jewish, etc.), would have opposed the self-interest and objectification which was exemplified by the financial collapse...and opposes the rooting of self-worth in monetary or fiduciary terms.
The rest of the Psalm condemns the violent and wicked...so there might be fodder here for a discussion of the vicissitudes of war, the annihilatory ethic of terrorism, and more. But for today, I hope you are struck--as I was--by the cry out to God for deliverance from the human-wrought terror of abandonment and the sense of being preyed-upon for profit and wealth.
In this day, Holy God, comfort us in trust that we are not alone in our struggle,
but that even in our groaning we live in hope by the Spirit. Amen.
(The Daily Office, Vol. 1, p. 297)