October 20, 2016

Why am I an Episcopalian?

Today, our greatest obstacles and opportunities are deeply personal while equally global. I think, in part, what I was looking for was something that responded to that.

Throughout my many years of leading missional communities, I frequently found myself looking for tools, ways of doing church, that spoke to the increasingly global yet hyper individualistic culture that I've ministered to. Completely unintentional on my part, I stumbled into resources and friendships that responded to what I was searching for.

Globalization. An international space station. Global warming. ... each of these represent challenges or opportunities that come as a result of the increasing connection there is around the globe. We read news from around the world. Buy products manufactured in other countries. Send aid to folks around the world. We see the effects of migration on our own economy and infrastructure.

Anecdotally, all but one of the households I've met in my new neighborhood so far represent people that have lived in Houston, TX for no more than 5 years and most have lived in--or are natives of--other countries.

What has aided this is the Internet.

Each of us has at our fingertips the ability to conduct self-expression to an audience that was unimaginable a generation ago. Partnered with the increase of consumerism around the globe, we are more self-oriented than we've ever been.

So incredibly connected, yet, we've never been more isolated and alone.

Reflecting on this, one of my convictions has been that in order for the Christian faith to thrive in such a context requires a Christian tradition that can respond to both globalization and hyper individuality. At least from my perspective that can be found in the Anglican tradition. The Book of Common Prayer and the lectionary, these two tools for spiritual formation speak to this. They can provide a means to introduce individuals to the practice of connecting with God personally while praying prayers and reflecting on Scripture that others around the world are as well ... all at the same time.

That I find to be pretty cool for a tradition known for being out-of-touch, stuffy and archaic!

Not that it matters to anyone else, but I still think of myself as an anabaptistic Anglican. (This radio show might help make sense of that statement). That is to say, that I feel at home in this tradition while at the same time directed by a people-centered ecclesiology, Christo-centric theology and hermeneutic, a nonviolent ethic and eschatology and believe that, no matter when or how the water falls, discipleship in the way of Jesus ought to be a conscious choice.

Note: I addressed a bit of my draw towards this tradition at the beginning of a Lent blog series with my friend Mike Angell. I also referred to some our early tinkerings with ancient Church practices in my interview with Dan Kimball for his book, The Emerging Church.