Means of Grace, Hope of Glory


Mary and Martha: The relationship of action and contemplation

 To give Our Lord a perfect service Martha and Mary must combine  Saint Teresa

A standard sermon

There’s a standard sermon about Mary and Martha. Martha is about doing something, engaging in good works, and helping people. Mary is about being still and listening, giving ourselves to prayer and piety. Martha is about action. Mary is about contemplation. One thinker suggested that Martha is about loving the neighbor and Mary about loving God. 

So far, so good. They serve well enough as images for two aspects of the spiritual life. Then we go off the rails into customer service religion. The preacher tells a spiritual lie—“We need both the activist and the contemplative. God calls some to the one and some to the other.”

Well, maybe it’s not quite a lie, more a spiritual half-truth and an avoidance of the whole truth. 

What needs to be said is more this, “In our spiritual journey some begin more inclined to action and others to contemplation. God draws us all toward a life in which awe and adoration are the ground for our action.”

Sadly most of our congregations don't have much humor about this. It's a brave, and usually foolish, preacher who will say, "Martha is a workaholic, compulsive, unable to stop herself. Mary is not dependable. She refuses to accept responsibility for her share of life's work.”  Worse yet is to suggest that most people in any parish are spiritually immature. It's true but we really do need to watch how we say things. 

Still leaders need to stay clear and ready to persevere. It is simply true—that the "all activist” person, the one with little reflectiveness, with little sense of perspective or wonder—can do great harm. Their weak hold on the reality of human limitation and sin makes them arrogant and dangerous. Saint John of the Cross said, “But without prayer, all they do amounts to nothing more than noise and uproar; it is like a hammer banging on an anvil and echoing all over the neighborhood. They accomplish a little more than nothing, sometimes absolutely nothing at all, and sometimes downright evil.”

On the other hand, in practice, the “all interior” person is likely to do little damage and may serve us by example and in prayer.  It’s partly that there are usually so few of them and the few there are tend to not take up a great amount of the parish’s emotional space.[i]

This is not a polarity to be managed. Nor is it a balanced be maintained. It is a synthesis to be created at the center of parish life. It is a synthesis to be lived by a critical mass of the parish. It is a synthesis to show itself in the general climate of the parish. We do this person by person. We do this by nurturing those of apostolic faith and by loving and inviting those who are not of apostolic faith, to move forward. It is an invitation done with great gentleness and patience.

The standard sermon expresses an understanding that is comforting for most parishioners. “You are fine as you are. No growing necessary.” The new sermon says, “God loves you just as you are. And God calls you to grow into the person you can be.”


The story of Mary and Martha is all too frequently twisted by preachers to avoid making us uncomfortable. They offer the ways of Mary and Martha as equally valid paths. But that’s not the story. Our Lord gives us a challenge — “Mary has chosen the better part.” To receive the challenge, and the grace that accompanies it, is to enter into our own life in a new way. We come to see and understand that the Eucharist is not only about us being fed so we might feed others; Eucharist is an end in itself. Just being with one another and God in communion is the purpose and completion of life. We come to understand that sitting on a porch drinking fine Scotch or cheap beer is not just a break from the struggles of life, but is a taste of eternity.[ii] Robert A. Gallagher

The strange tilt in many parishes of endless appreciation and "welcome wherever you are on your spiritual journey" undermines spiritual and emotional health and development. What we do with Mary and Martha is one case.

The honest preacher[iii] will want admit that Jesus did seem to be more appreciative of Mary than Martha--only one thing is needed and Mary has chosen it. In the end the kingdom doesn’t need our activism. The kingdom doesn’t require our good works. The kingdom is friendship, communion, and companionship. It is the banquet. It is the New Jerusalem in which God is fully with us and there is no more death, no mourning or crying or pain. All the tears have been wiped away. 

There is a point in our spiritual growth where we seem to be either mostly Martha or mostly Mary. We do need to begin someplace. Early on there are "two ways." We are mostly one or the other. Later it may be more that there are "two aspects." That's when the syntheses is taking place. It is Teresa’s wisdom being fulfilled, “To give Our Lord a perfect service Martha and Mary must combine.”

For me the most significant result of this inner growth is that we move more and more into reality. It is Henri Nouwen’s movement from Illusion to Prayer. In his system it is intertwined with moving away from hostility and loneliness. 

It is from an inner life fed by prayer and reflection that we can better see things as they are. People as they are in themselves, and as they are “in God,” rather than as they are in relation to my needs. This is learning to be free, to see the world and other people less through our own confusion and desire to control, acquired and achieve.

The Civil Rights Movement

The movement was rooted in Christian understanding prayer. You could see it in the witness of John Lewis, Martin Luther King and many others.

For Jonathan Daniels it was the backdrop for his action. It was during Evening Prayer and the singing of the Magnificat that he knew he was going to Selma.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." I had come to Evening Prayer as usual that evening, and as usual I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always felt for Mary's glad song. …Then it came. "He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things." I knew then that I must go to Selma.

He had a Prayer Book spirituality—The Eucharist and the Daily Office provided the ground for his natural reflectiveness. 

Charles Eagles describes the feelings as Daniels and the other Episcopal seminarians arrived in Atlanta on the way to Selma for the second march. “Emotionally, they resembled soldiers preparing for battle—though anxious, even fearful, they were at the same time excited about the prospect of participating in the march to Montgomery. Some were silent, while others chattered nervously. An inveterate smoker, Jon Daniels had innumerable cigarettes while sitting rather quietly.”[iv]  In this climate, and during those days, they would say the Office and seek ways to be present at the Eucharist. In one of his reflections he wrote, “As Judy[v] and I said the daily offices day by day, we became more and more aware of the living reality of the invisible "communion of saints"--of the beloved community in Cambridge who were saying the offices too, of the ones gathered around a near-distant throne in heaven--who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise.”

In "Standing in the Need of Prayer" Coretta Scott King wrote about the role of prayer in the movement, "Prayer was a wellspring of strength and inspiration during the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the movement, we prayed for greater human understanding. We prayed for the safety of our compatriots in the freedom struggle. We prayed for victory in our nonviolent protests, for brotherhood and sisterhood among people of all races, for reconciliation and the fulfillment of the Beloved Community. For my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle."

It wasn't that everyone in the movement was a Christian. They certainly weren't. There were many religious Jews and there were secularists of all kinds. But there was a critical mass of faithful people There was a habit of  prayer and understanding that held the movement grounded in a notion of the Beloved Community. Or at least it did for a while.

Over time some became more frustrated as the struggle dragged on, the resistance to change proved stubborn, and more died.  In some places the critical mass shifted to groups with little interest in the Christian faith, the image of the “beloved community,” and the methods of non-violence.

All struggles for justice require a critical mass of people who in prayer and reflection have focused their attention on God and God’s reality. Without that the actuality of human limitation and sin will draw the movement more and more into willfulness and illusion. Spirituality and justice are to be a seamless garment. Prayer and action are called to be inseparable.


Change is resisted until people have the abilities they need to live in the new place. If I want to live in Mexico it will help to learn the language and culture. If a leader is trying to make her company more responsive to the needs of customers there are new skills and attitudes to learn before the employees will be at ease.

The Benedictine Promise is a true picture of the spiritual dynamic among stability, listening and change; or more accurately stability, obedience and conversion of life.  We do need to tell people that conversion is necessary in the Christian life. But hearing that does little good without having the skills and knowledge that allows us to navigate the Promise, especially the task of endless change. To do that well we need competency in certain areas. For example, learning to give ourselves to the present and developing the habit of taking practical action here and now, or learning to reflect upon death, or learning to make a commitment to our own maturity by performing the "work we have been given to do” and seeking to accept responsibility and take action.

We can help people open themselves to the inner life by:

- Giving them an idea of what that might look like. Helping them identify moments in their experience. Providing images.

- Helping them find the dissatisfaction within them. Change is in part motivated by a gap between where we are now and where we could be.

-  Providing specific first steps they might take—begin to experiment with the Daily Office, come to the session on Eucharistic Practices.

- Developing related skills and habits. Probably the first set of skills has to do with learning to be still and silent.

Our growth in the Christian life is not a project we undertake. It’s not us achieving a goal or feeding our ego.  It is about being still and sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is about wasting time with Jesus. It is about giving our best to Jesus. It is Mary’s way.

The fact is that the Holy Spirit nudges and draws us into maturity in Christ. It is the Spirit’s work.

But life remains odd and paradoxical. So, we must also give ourselves to the new path. We must become proficient in the ways of the Christian life. And so, there we are—we have a project.

Along the way we may find ourselves caught up in awe and adoration. We may find ourselves so swept away in the Liturgy that all our foolishness is for the moment gone.

Parish development

One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created.[vi]

Things to do:

1. Stop telling them that the two are equal. They're not equal. Mary's is the better choice. And in God's graciousness, in time, we will all come there.

2. Develop a critical mass of people of apostolic faith and practice. People who have taken responsibility for their own spiritual discipline and grounded the discipline in the ancient ways of the church and adapted that to contemporary needs.

3. Teach people how to engage in Eucharistic practice and how to say the Daily  Office.

4. Coach and train people in being reflective.  Help them see how they currently engage in wonder, awe, and adoration.

5. This one is critical -- Do liturgy in a manner that opens people to awe and adoration. You want people to be swept off their feet every Sunday and brought to their still place day-by-day in Office and Eucharist.




A List of All Postings

[i] What may be generally true isn’t always true. I have on rare occasions seen parish’s that are so quiet, so restrained, so passive, that life comes to a halt. The parish begins to disintegrate.

[ii]Fill All Things: The Spiritual Dynamics of the Parish Church” Robert Gallagher, Ascension Press, 2008

[iii] We preachers might begin with ourselves. From St. John of the Cross, “Let the men eaten up with activity and who imagine they are able to shake the world with their preaching and other outward works, stop and reflect a moment. It will not be difficult for them to understand that they would be much more useful to the Church and more pleasing to the Lord, not to mention the good example they would give to those around them, if they devoted more time to prayer and to the exercises of the interior life.”

[iv]Outside Agitator: Jon Daniels and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama” by Charles Eagles, Page 34. Eagles description is echoed in David Halberstam’s book on the civil rights movement, “The Children.”  His account of the training of those preparing to sit in at Nashville’s lunch counters in 1960 mentions skills of how to respond when attacked, how in the training process they were forming a community and “learning to be responsible for one another.” They learned the tradition of non-violent civil disobedience. They learned to do reconnaissance missions so as to see the places they would be and assess the amount of resistance they would face. (pp.76 – 81) This was a movement they had given themselves to and it would change them. Early in the book Halberstam writes of the life members of the group had as they aged. Some became famous and served as politicians, doctors and educators. Others had more mundane lives and the years of the movement would be the most “exciting and stirring of their lives.” And others “were not unlike brilliant combat leaders in America’s wars who never handled in peacetime an existence which was routine as well as they handled the one fraught with danger.” p. 8 Halberstam also wrote “The Coldest Winter” on the Korean War. The connection between the young Marines and soldiers in Korea and the civil rights “soldiers” sound alike even though the one used violence and the other non-violence.

[v] Judy Upham was another seminarian. She had been asked by Daniels to go with him to Selma.

[vi]Concerning the Inner Life” Evelyn Underhill, page 22 One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created. We observe then that two of the three things for which our souls were made are matters of attitude, of relation: adoration and awe. Unless these two are right, the last of the triad, service, won’t be right. Unless the whole of is a movement of praise and adoration, unless it is instinct with awe, the work which the life produces won’t be much good



Christian Action

Aquinas got it right: prayer is 'loving God in act so that the divine life can communicate itself to us and through us to the world. ' Christian action is not action of which Jesus approves but action that he performs through his incorporated, and therefore prayerful, disciples  Martin Thornton in "Spiritual Direction"

There are three primary assumptions in an Anglican approach to Christian action. The first is that civic involvement is a good thing. We are called to involve ourselves. For some of us it is a vocation that lasts a life time, for others during a part of their lives, and for most of us in the routine ways of voting, serving on juries and in neighborhood or other groups. The second assumption is that the primary way in which the church carries out this ministry is in the daily life of the baptized member. The third is that the more our action flows from a life of prayer, the more it is grounded in awe and adoration, the more faithful and useful the action will be. The starting place of the baptized person's action is in the Sunday Eucharist and the Daily Office.
A good thing
"We see Christian faith as having political implications. Episcopalians have a long history of involvement in the civic life of communities and the nation. The individual Christian is called to both inform and act on their conscience. The church doesn’t usually ask its members to accept particular political views but it does ask members to consider in their thinking and decision making what might be understood from the Scriptures, what the church has learned over the centuries (as seen in the Tradition and the contemporary councils of the church) and in their own Reason. As a church we take positions on public issues. While these positions are often on what is seen as the more liberal side of the political spectrum; they frequently exhibit an Anglican comprehensiveness in affirming the complexity of a situation." From Episcopal Spirituality, Robert A. Gallagher, OA
In the daily life of the baptized member
“Nine-tenths of the work of the Church in the world is done by Christian people fulfilling responsibilities and performing tasks which in themselves are not part of he official system of the Church at all.” In a later work, Temple wrote of the organic reality of the Body, “the stream of redemptive power flows out from the church through the lives of its members into the society which they influence.” William Temple in "What Christians Stand for in the Secular World" 
From a life of prayer
“One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created. We observe then that two of the three things for which our souls were made are matters of attitude, of relation: adoration and awe. Unless these two are right, the last of the triad, service, won’t be right. Unless the whole of your…life is a movement of praise and adoration, unless it is instinct with awe, the work which the life produces won’t be much good -Evelyn Underhill in "Concerning the Inner Life"
Holiness is the brightness of divine love, and love is never idle; it must accomplish great things. Love must act as light must shine and fire must burn  James Huntington, OHC


Parish development

  1. Keep the three elements in front of people
  2. Take notice of distortions and correct them. For example, even though William Temple is clear, some members will continue to think about Christian Action as something the parish does as a corporate body. There are some reflections on the web site of the Order of the Ascension about this – explorations.
  3. Affirm specific examples of the daily life ministry of the baptized in work, among family and friends and in civic life. 
  4. Provide regular instruction in prayer life and coaching/guidance for those open to it.

Three Holy Years: 1963 – 1965

This was the beginning for me. In June 1963 I returned from Quantico, VA and the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class. I needed to do something with the rest of that summer. Don Farrow, my parish priest, suggested that I go work for Fr. Paul Washington at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

It was a large staff, black and white, rich and poor (and then me), young women and men. We were running a summer day camp for a couple of hundred children. Those of us from outside the neighborhood lived in the curatage (the men) or the rectory (the women).

There were three years of conversion and formation. Years shaped by three forces.

Patricia, my girl friend, was a faithful Roman Catholic caught up in the adventure of John XXIII and Vatican II.[i] She drew me to faith and practice.  She had passion about the church. For her it was a progressive force. Through her I found myself a better Episcopalian and fell in love with that way of being a Christian.


The United States Marine Corps connected me with the values of honor, courage, and commitment. I didn’t realize it until recently but the Corps stance of endurance in the face of suffering touched a deep part of my own temperament.[ii]


The civil rights movement, specifically CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality)[iii], with its national leader, James Farmer, and the chair of the Philadelphia chapter, Jimmy Williams, called me to non-violent direct action and strangely enough to the same values I knew from the Marine Corps. 


When your heart desires, When your soul’s on fire[iv]

Church, the Marine Corps, and the Movement—the three intersected, combined, and fed one another.

Coming back early from the Platoon Leaders Class at Quantico brought me to Paul Washington and the Church of the Advocate. When I got there Jessie Anderson, Jr. was the curate (he heard my first confession.) Before the summer was out John Black was there as curate. John was a former Marine Corps drill instructor.  He had that spirit of aggressiveness and movement. He introduced me to the Daily Office and got me to go to my first civil-rights demonstration in Chester, PA.[v]


That led me to CORE, which moved me into leading two college civil rights groups, being trained in non-violence and civil disobedience, and spending considerable time on picket lines. When CORE moved into voter registration work I spend a lot of time on the streets of North Philadelphia registering people. Then there was demonstrating on the Atlantic City boardwalk outside the Democratic Convention in support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.



All three had stories, heroes, martyrs, and habits of mind and action. Each called for a piety, a participation in a historic narrative.It was an offering of self in devotion and warm duty to the group that was providing you with a life of identity and purpose.  Each valued a sense of community, venerated sacrifice, and held together collective action and individual responsibility. And each held a special attraction for young people, those of us 18 – 20, idealistic, seeking a place to give our hearts.

I remember sitting with Pam and others on staff in 1964. The three CORE workers had disappeared and we all assumed they had been killed.[vi] Pam’s brother was also down there registering voters. She hadn’t heard from him for some days. She was worried. We prayed. We drank beer.

Toward the end of the summer program in 1965 the staff heard that an Episcopal seminarian had been killed in Alabama. We prayed. We drank beer.

Those were holy years for me. Years of conversion and formation.

They were also holy years for our nation[vii] and in many ways for our church.

Here’s an invitation for you and your parish to join the Parish of Saint Clement of Rome in a recollection of those years.


An invitation to remember, celebrate and act 

During the next three years the Parish of Saint Clement of Rome, Seattle, will weave into its liturgical life times of recollection in regard to the events 50 years ago.

Those years are holy years. They were a time in which the eternal cause for human dignity was focused in the American struggle for voting rights, jobs, and equal treatment.

We invite you to join us.

· Come to St. Clement’s and join us in common prayer

· Add these times of recollection to your own parish calendar

· Invite parishioners to recall these days as they say the Daily Office

· Take some action to advance voting rights, jobs, and equal treatment for those facing oppression and injustice

Father Dennis Campbell
Rector, The Parish of Saint Clement of Rome

See the full invitation on the parish web site This includes a civil rights time line.


Parish development

I hope you’ll join us at Saint Clement of Rome in recalling these three holy years. This can be part of your parish’s identity. Maybe it will help your parish develop a parish culture that grounds acts of service and advocacy in awe and adoration; that understands the foundation of faithful service and advocacy is Eucharist and Office, Reflection and Community.


The Feast of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman

Related posting: Independence Day 2013: Piety and the Unfinished Work

A List of All Postings

[i] Vatican II 1962 - 65

[ii] The USMC seemed to have worked itself into my soul as a young man and now many years later as an old man. I took the oath on August 15, 1962 and received my Honorable Discharge on September 6, 1963. Only two weeks were active duty for training. A recruit died on a forced march of an asthma attack. Hundreds of us with hay fever were let go. They wisely didn’t want trouble with Congress over more recruit deaths and maybe people with hay fever weren’t ideal for fighting in Vietnam. While the Corps may have meaning for me I’ve never regretted missing Vietnam or the path that opened up once I left Quantico.

[iii] Founded in 1942 in Chicago, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) pioneered the use of nonviolent direct action in the civil rights struggle. CORE supported southern blacks during the sit-in movement of 1960; CORE field secretaries traveled throughout the South, training activists in nonviolent methods.  CORE organized the Freedom Rides in the spring of 1961. CORE then began to focus on voter registration. In 1962, along with other civil rights groups, CORE joined the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and supported the 1964 Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the state’s all-white official delegation at the Democratic National Convention of 1964. Three CORE workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, were killed in Mississippi that summer of 1964. By 1966 a power struggle within CORE forced James Farmer to leave as national director. CORE then adopted a platform based on Black Power, limited white involvement in the organization, and ended its commitment to non violence. Sometime later CORE was taken over by a faction that aligned the group with conservative political forces. 

[iv] From “Say Freedom” by Mitchelle M. Hattiesburg, in “Freedom School Poetry” from the SNCC Freedom Schools of 1965.

[v] Before he started the practice of saying the Office in the church, John would sing Morning Prayer, in Russian, in his shower.

[vi] Three CORE civil rights workers were murdered by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County's Sheriff Office and the Philadelphia, Mississippi Police Department. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner had been registering black voters in Mississippi. On June 21 they went to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested by the police on speeding charges, incarcerated for several hours, and then released into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Their bodies were found on August 4.

[vii] One hundred years before were also Holy Years.

1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation freeing all Confederate slaves. The action allowed the Union to recruit black soldiers. Over 180,000 of them joined. The Battle of Gettysburg and a few months later the Gettysburg Address.

1864 – The war continues and Abraham Lincoln is reelected President in an overwhelming victory 
1865 - The Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The Civil War ends. Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified abolishing slavery. The Ku Klux Klan gets formed to prevent the black population gaining civil rights.



Benedictine spirituality and the parish church

Parish churches get healthier when they begin to live into their own true self.

One part of that is local and particular. I’ve been talking with a friend whose parish sees itself as “warm and welcoming.” In one sense it’s a useless descriptor. Parishes that are not adequately “warm and welcoming” are usually doomed. Few parishes strive to be “cold and hostile.” Though we all know some achieve it while still claiming the “warm and welcoming” title.

Anyhow, back to my friend’s parish. They see themselves as warm and welcoming. I have no reason to doubt their sincerity or their behavior around that. So, the appropriate intervention would be appreciative—how can you build upon, grow and expand what you already are and know how to do?

Same thing with a friend whose parish sees itself as Anglo-Catholic. Its liturgy is amazing. It is a beautiful act of wonder and adoration. It is to the glory of God and the formation of the People of God. It’s a five star parish with a five star liturgy.

However ….

There is some unraveling taking place and a few emerging trends that could cause difficulties in the years ahead. Some servers need brushing up on their liturgical presence. Because there’s been a lot of membership growth there are a number of people that have picked up the habits of liturgical reverence without really understanding what they are doing as part of a liturgical tradition. In the terms of organizational culture, they have the artifacts down but lack the espoused values and deeper underlying assumptions.

That also lends itself to an appreciative approach.

The other part

The other part of getting healthier as we live into our own true self is by grounding the parish in something larger and more ancient.

One aspect of that for Episcopalians is the tradition of Benedictine spirituality.

Benedictine spirituality is part of our Anglican DNA. It’s the way of the Prayer Book and is embedded in much of the way we function as parish communities.

For example:

-The Book of Common Prayer is rooted in Benedictine spirituality with its focus on the Eucharist and the Daily Office.

-Our inclination to have parishes of a size that allows the priest and people to know one another. It gives us a domestic and relational climate.  

-A tradition of hospitality that affirms that in receiving visitors we meet Christ.

There is also an assumption that people are shaped by being part of the parish church. Christian formation takes place as we absorb the customs and habits of the parish’s life. As parishes better live and express those habits and attitudes people better experience what it is to be a Christian within this tradition.

It’s especially so with worship.

Common Prayer

There’s a leaflet that was put out by the Diocese of Texas that confused the nature of daily prayer. It included in the Q & A section the question, “Can I make up my own prayers?” The answer was, “The Book of Common Prayer is meant to complement daily individual prayers, not to replace them.”


The Anglican approach is more that people can, of course, always pray on their own and phrase those prayers as they want. But that’s secondary.[i]

Our belief is that the Sunday Eucharist and the Daily Office shapes our minds and hearts so that our individual reflections and prayers are grounded in the broader and more ancient ways of God's church. We enter into the mind of God through common prayer. Our participation in common prayer is a participation in the truest and deepest form of prayer. The Book of Common Prayer isn’t meant to complement personal prayers. It is in fact the reverse. Personal devotions are meant to complement Common Prayer. In fact they are to rise out of Common Prayer.

Our common prayer, done as corporate worship or as individuals, is the foundation orienting us to a right relationship with God, one another, self and creation. Common prayer teaches is how to live in God.[ii] 

Worship comes before all other things

In the early 70’s I worked for Metropolitan Associates of Philadelphia (MAP), an industrial mission. It was an ecumenical church agency that researched how lay people could be effective; faithful change agents in the workplace. There was a staff of about 10 people-someone focused on government, another on business, there was a person working with medical people and so on. At one point I was the only Episcopalian. All the others were American Baptist or another form of Protestant.

On one Monday morning another MAP staffer arrived for a meeting that included a number of Episcopalians. He was excited, bouncing up and down with pleasure. His American Baptist church had canceled worship services on Sunday so everyone could participate in a meeting about housing discrimination. The other Protestants in the room joined in his excitement. Wasn’t it wonderful how they could set aside the rituals in favor of dealing with something important? The Episcopalians were silent, looking at one another, mostly confused.

It didn’t make any sense to us. How could you not engage in common prayer on Sunday?

We may not have said it, or even had it in our awareness that moment, but we had this Benedictine set of assumptions about common prayer. We shared Evelyn Underhill’s assumption that “One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created.” They were all bound up together. And we assumed that worship comes before other things. We assumed that common prayer was the ground upon which rested faithful community, reflection and service.[iii]

Common Prayer comes first --  In Benedict’s Rule it says,

At the hour for the Divine Office,
as soon as the signal is heard,
let them abandon whatever they may have in hand
and hasten with the greatest speed,


Most of our parishes seem to intuitively understand that there are a set of practices that go along with keeping worship first and as the ground for all other things.

For example when the Eucharist is being celebrated or the Office said:

-We don't keep the parish office open

-We don't prepare the coffee hour or Sunday brunch

-We don't have a meeting at the same time.


We “continue in…in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.”

Common Prayer is not a matter of mood or feelings. It is about God. And as we worship God we may be blessed with a sense of wonder, awe and adoration. Common Prayer is about our need to love and praise God, and in so doing to find out truest and fullest selves. If we worship only when we feel like it or when it is convenient, we will never know what worship is really for. We will never know the slow, gradual, long-term sanctification that reorients and transforms life.

A few things the parish can do

-Equip people to say the Daily Office. Train and coach them.  Work at it so 80% of the Sacramental Christians know that there is such a thing as the Daily Office (who knows, someday they may find themselves doing it) and 20% of those in the pews most Sundays say it regularly.

-Instruct them about Benedict, the Rule, what it suggests about life in community.

- Teach them about the part of our ethos having to do with open-mindedness, practicality, and comprehensiveness and about the domestic and pastoral ideal and orientation of most parishes.

-Give them a copy of the Book of Common Prayer to have at home.

 For more on this see Chapter Three "The Benedictine Promise" in Fill All Things


A parish revitalization strategy

Parish churches get healthier when they begin to live into their own true self. That “true self” consists of elements that are already strong and valuable.  Often there are other elements that are of the larger and wider tradition that the parish has lost connection with.

Both the “warm and welcoming” parish and the Anglo Catholic parish need an appreciative strategy for what they already do well. They require an enriching strategy with lots of experiential training and hands on coaching so they might ground themselves in a more Benedictine spirituality. Affirm and build upon the particular, introduce and import the more universal and ancient.


I was saddened to see that in “Holy Women, Holy Men” for the Feast of Saint Benedict it was all history and little about current ascetical and pastoral theology. The one nod was this -  “In the Anglican Communion today, the rule of many religious orders are influenced by Benedict’s rule.” In the next revision let’s hope they also say, “We also see that influence in the Book of Common Prayer being 2/3 given to the Eucharist and the Daily Office and in our Anglican temperament of open-mindedness, practicality, and comprehensiveness.” 



Feast of Saint Benedict


A List of All Postings

[i] My own thinking has evolved about the nature of “personal devotions.” Our world needs people who are grounded in common prayer (Eucharist and Office) and are reflective about their lives. That reflection, alone and in community, is the connection between worship and the action. If—saying a blessing over food, offering a prayer as an ambulance passes, or offering daily intercession—better connects the life of God to our daily life, that’s wonderful. But many people no longer find those acts useful as part of their spiritual discipline. My advice is to let go of any lingering guilt about that and focus on Common Prayer and reflectiveness.

[ii] From Fill All Things: The Spiritual Dynamics of the Parish Church

Our worship tradition as Episcopalians is based on a three-part structure. Michael Ramsey, the one-hundredth Archbishop of Canterbury, referred to it as the “Benedictine triangle.” Martin Thornton called it the “Catholic Threefold Rule of Prayer.” It is the Prayer Book’s way of prayer. The three elements, Eucharist, Daily Office, and Personal Devotions, comprise the fundamentals of a disciplined Christian spirituality in the Anglican tradition.

The use of this pattern can help individuals and parishes move away from the attempt to base our prayer life on a self-made, unintegrated list of "rules" toward an integrated Rule grounded in The Book of Common Prayer. It is as a parish, as a local expression of the Body of Christ, that we may fully participate in and offer this threefold pattern. As individuals we will at times participate in this pattern, carrying others in prayer. At other times we will be carried.

Protestantism deviates from this Benedictine-Anglican pattern. So do many of what we use to call Low Church parishes and all the three-star Prayer Book Catholic parishes that haven’t fully entered into their own abundance. Of course there is more use of the Office than ever and more Protestants are recovering the disciplines of the daily prayer of the church along with a pattern of more frequent celebration of the Eucharist.

Roman Catholic parish spirituality has also generally departed from the Benedictine pattern with a focus on extra-liturgical devotions such as the Rosary and Benediction. Many Anglo Catholic parishes followed that path. Both have tended toward a daily mass practice rather than the pattern of Sunday and Feast Day Eucharist and Daily Office. Thankfully the Roman Catholic Church has for some time been encouraging lay people in saying the Liturgy of the Hours.

[iii] See the In Your Holy Spirit books for more on this model for pastoral theology. Here’s a PDF of the model


Independence Day 2013: Piety and the Unfinished Work

               the unfinished work 

It’s a phrase from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address[i]—“the unfinished work.”

The work is this – “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  It was about the survival of the nation, but not just that it would survive; it was about the expansion of freedom and a form of government that was of, by, and for “the people.”

All of these died in faith without having received the promises,

but from a distance they saw and greeted them.[ii]

Piety is one of the traditional virtues. It’s among the Gifts of the Holy Spirit along with awe, knowledge (the kind of knowledge that accepts paradox), courage (including fortitude), openness to the Spirit in silence and by listening to others, and wisdom. All comes together in wisdom—it’s wholeness, spiritual maturity.

Piety[iii] is the recognition of our obligation to God, our country and family. It’s really more than just recognition. It suggests feelings of gratitude and affection and acts of respect and duty. It’s tribal. It’s particular.

On Tuesday I was walking along 15th Ave on the corner where there is an entrance to Safeway. As I came to the light there was a man with his arms raised above his head – in surrender or praise?

Then I heard, he was singing –

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.[iv]

Was it an act of piety or maybe of madness? It’s not always easy to see the difference. I stood back waiting for the light to change. 

Piety is expressed in behavior. In religious ceremonies we kneel, bow and cross ourselves. We hang pictures of saints, family and friends in their homes.  We stand when the judge enters the courtroom and reporters stand when the President enters for a press conference. In the military there are courtesies such as saluting. And when the national anthem is played people stand.

These are artifacts, ways of doing things, that are related to values we hold and deep underlying assumptions about the nature of things.

The behaviors are outward and visible actions that are connected to inward realities. An outcome of piety is warm duty rather than cold duty. Things visible related to things invisible. They express a stance and attitude. Richard Holloway, one-time Presiding Bishop of Scotland, saw piety as,  “A kind of fondness or love, a recognition of what you owe the land that bred you.”[v]

The unfinished work 

My college textbook for American History was “The United States: Experiment in Democracy.”[vi] The writers had a view of the nation that was positive about the impact of the mix of founding groups, African-Americans, and later immigration.

It affirmed the spirit of individualism and innovation that emerged; as well as values about giving people a chance, a suspicion of special privilege, and fairness in our dealings with one another.  And it noted that over time in response to contextual needs and our own values we expanded the franchise, separated church and state, protected basic freedoms and enlarged our understanding of the common good.[vii]

The idea of there being an “American experiment” seems to have come from Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”, written in the 1830s. It’s a phrase used on the left and the right. Sigmund Freud thought it grandiose.[viii]

I think that American piety about the nation is strongly connected to this idea that we are in the midst of an experiment. In Lincoln’s phrase there is an “unfinished work” we are called to complete.

Martin Luther King said, “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice.” I would hope that is true. I am more certain myself that something similar is true -- that the long-term tilt of America is toward increased liberty. 


The legacy of slavery

The most concrete and persistently avoided “unfinished work” is the legacy of slavery. Think on the Supreme Court voting rights decision last week. I wonder if we are now moving past a half century of consciousness in a return to our long-term pattern of neglect and avoidance. Yesterday NPR reported a story on the visit of American Presidents to Gettysburg. President Wilson stressed reconciliation between North and South. FDR did the same. Both Democrats in need of the votes of southern Democrats.

In 1963, then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, spoke at Gettysburg.[ix] Hs theme was that the battle one hundred years before was about slavery, race, and now civil rights. He was a Southern Democrat. He also had won his elections with the votes of other southern Democrats. He said,

“One hundred years ago, the slave was freed. One hundred years later, the Negro remains in bondage to the color of his skin. The Negro today asks justice. We do not answer him — we do not answer those who lie beneath this soil — when we reply to the Negro by asking, ‘Patience.’ It is empty to plead that the solution to the dilemmas of the present rests on the hands of the clock. The solution is in our hands. Unless we are willing to yield up our destiny of greatness among the civilizations of history, Americans--white and Negro together--must be about the business of resolving the challenge which confronts us now. Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg one hundred years ago. We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.”

Lyndon Johnson understood “the unfinished work.”  He asked for perseverance

In Tuesday’s New York Times, David Brookes did an op-ed about Civil War soldiers writing letters home from the battlefield. He wrote of one soldier who sent this home,

I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

Brooks comments:

These letter writers, and many of the men at Gettysburg, were not just different than most of us today because their language was more high flown and earnest. There was probably also a greater covenantal consciousness, a belief that they were born in a state of indebtedness to an ongoing project, and they would inevitably be called upon to pay these debts, to come square with the country, even at the cost of their lives.[x]

It’s the same idea isn’t it?—“an ongoing project”…”experiment” .. “unfinished work.”


A better country

The Daily Office readings for Independence Day include one from Revelations 21. “I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven … I am making all things new.” Words, that when read in relationship to this day and this nation, will bring mixed feelings to many Americans on the left and the right. We more "progressive” souls might be comforted if when we hear about the "new Jerusalem” we think less of ideas like exceptionalism and destiny and more about what the content might be of such a new Jerusalem. Why not hope for such a thing? Certainly for all nations. But also certainly for the United States. 

My American piety, my patriotism, is directly connected to this idea of there being an “unfinished work.” That the nation itself, and most certainly our long struggle to come to terms with race, are worthy “ongoing projects” and involve a debt we are to pay in each generation.

                                      they desire a better country[xi]


Particularity and Catholicity  

Ben Franklin wrote, “It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”[xii] It’s an expression of the relationship between particularity and catholicity.

For many of us our inability to enter into a fruitful piety around our country is related to our not having created a synthesis of particularity and catholicity. How am I to love my country and also love humanity?

For many people it’s a silly dilemma. They may be right about that. Maybe it’s that the idealistic progressive expects such perfection from the nation that we have conjured an impossible dream. When we allow this pattern of thinking to shape how we approach family and friends—well, we end up lonely. There’s that relationship among loneliness, hostility and illusion.[xiii]

I believe the task is to find the synthesis. Doing that requires us to set aside our tendency to take a non-appreciative stance toward our own country. It also means letting go of , in this instance, the search for “balance.” It’s not about having just enough negativity that is balanced by just enough appreciation.

Balance at its best seeks harmony.  Synthesis seeks unity.  A lack of balance creates instability.  A lack of synthesis creates division.

Synthesis is bringing particularity and universality together into a new creation. It is making one thing out of separate elements, integration.

Balance is something that allows you to go forward, something you live with even if it’s always a tension. Synthesis is friendly and pleasing. It’s a “real life.”

The stuckness of us progressives

If conservatives tend to be uncritical lovers of the nation those of us that are more liberal are frequently the unloving critics.[xiv]  Both set up their straw men with statements and images showing how out of touch the other side is.

Even the wise Frederick Beuchner has done it. In a piece called “Wishful Thinking” he sets up the straw man beginning with, “If patriots are people who stand by their country right or wrong, Germans who stood by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich should be adequate proof that we've had enough of them.” It’s our big gun—suggest that they are Nazis. The right starts with the assumption that President Obama is a socialist. Beuchner goes on to mention Joe McCarthy, “Better Dead than Red,” and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He goes on to explain that as that side of the argument is so clearly morally defective we are all called to be “champions of the Human Race” and to defend not the homeland “but the planet Earth as Home.”

Obviously this is about the destruction of the other side. There’s no seeking balance let alone synthesis. But what will he do with the people who are patriots, whether they use the term or not, and love both their country and the earth?

When challenged often both parties will back up a bit—“yes there's much to be improved” or “yes there's something to love.” But why is it that those of us that are more progressive have such a hard time owning a flag. I don't mean wearing a flag on your lapel or dress. I mean having any kind of representation that expresses a visible loyalty toward our country that might also be a symbol available to those we disagree with.

Churchgoers, on the left and on the right, tend toward a form of Biblical literalism. We pick our favorite verses and toss them like grenades. One of the readings for the Daily Office for Independence Day is this:

they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more; 

but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
   and no one shall make them afraid;
   for the mouth of the Lord 
of hosts has spoken.    Micah 4: 3b – 4  

Many progressives use passages like this to make a case in relation to some specific crisis in which the use of force may be involved. This obviously means we need to avoid tensions with North Korea or Iran.[xv]

How much more generous it would be, how much kinder, if we could hold in mind that many of those in the White House and the Pentagon also treasure that passage and share its hope.

I believe that our nation and our church needs more comprehensiveness in our thinking and generosity in our actions. We require a piety toward our country that might translate into living with the paradox that we are to love those we don’t know, those different from us and at the same time we are to love those nearest to us.

Both/and, not either/or,

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?

For even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32


Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars;

 for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen,

 cannot love God whom they have not seen.  1 John:4 20


And maybe, just maybe, if we allow ourselves to rest in God’s goodness, we may find that synthesis in which the two calls become one thing.

 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy *

    and the wonders he does for his children. Ps 107: 8 From the Daily Office for Independence Day


Piety and parish revitalization

In consulting and training I’ve come across a significant number of clergy carrying a deep dissatisfaction with their parish. They may express it directly but often it shows in a kind of depressed accommodation or an indulgent paternalism.  I think I’ve known such times myself. Some are conflicted about their dissatisfaction and have feelings of guilt thinking they “should” be more positive. Some will develop a habit of emotional swings between the two. Those that have been accommodating or paternalistic are often now totally unaware of what they have done to themseves.

It hits many clergy but maybe especially those of us who see ourselves as more progressive. Being patient may be a virtue and waiting on the Lord may be an act of mature spiritual life—but it’s all a bit annoying.

We live in a world in which people increasingly seek 5 or at least 4 star coffee. Here we are celebrating the Eucharist in all these 3 star parishes (if that). My hunch is that most diocesan staffs asked to assess the parishes would see something like this—35% in decline, 45% static, and possibly 20% doing well. That’s if we say that doing well includes:

1) Effective formation in the spiritual life as lived in our tradition (in relationship to a pastoral theology model such as Shape of the Parish[xvi] I’d define this effectiveness as the parish having a “shape” that has people in all stages, includes a critical mass of people of apostolic faith and practice, and a climate and processes that both accept people where they are and effectively invites them to grow.)

2) Institutional strength and sustainability. This has to do with internal alignment.

3) Momentum in the sense that there is a capacity for development in the above two elements and that there is in fact movement toward, and energy around, those things 

Diocesan staffs may consider themselves fortunate if 20% are doing well and another 10% are showing some momentum. Of course that’s not an acceptable picture but we’ve begun to get accustomed to using measures that have to do with feelings of energy and excitement. So, if the parish is in decline or static, if they show any sign of life we try to be appreciative. 

The difficulty many parish clergy face isn't just about the decline. It’s not even primarily about the lack of momentum or our uncertainty about what business we are in as parishes and dioceses. I think it’s more immediate and day-by-day. They get dragged down by the superficialness of parish life, the investment in forms of folk religion, the images of the parish as a kind of social club or family or business or social change movement or historic society.

Some clergy deepen their problem by holding onto mental models that freeze their minds and hearts—I’m here for spiritual things not administration or leadership, if I do less they will do more, and if we can just get rid of hierarchy things will be better.[xvii]  Add your own.

We end up having a piety problem in ourselves.  Clergy can find themselves without those feelings of gratitude and affection and acts of respect and duty that allow them to live with integrity and integration. I know many who have tried to generate the feelings and engage in the acts out of a sense of duty or guilt. It has no staying power.

In many cases the problem is that the clergy simply don’t know how to address what they face. Many are doing the best they can. Many work very hard. But they lack three broad things that would give them a way forward.

1) Mental models that help them understand parish dynamics and create an effective pastoral strategy. Understanding and being able to apply just two models have helped many clergy – Shape of the Parish[xviii] offers a more realistic perspective as well as a broad strategy. The Renewal-Apostolate Cycle[xix] offers a tool to focus our primary task and suggests an approach to formation.

2) Skills and knowledge around change theory and methods[xx]

3) A systematic incorporation process for the parish to help people live as Christians grounded in the Anglican tradition.[xxi]

The last is the piece most directly connected with the piety question. The answer to what so many clergy experience as a superficial parish life is to ground that life in the deeper and broader life of the Anglican tradition. We can shape a parish life that expresses and draws us into a rich and worthy piety.

Getting there has little to do with changing much of what now exists. Direct attempts to do that are potential trip wires. We need to think five years not five months.  We need to begin now not in three months. We are likely to need a good coach (so get one!) 

The task is to shape a new synthesis in which most of the parish’s current ways are grounded more firmly in the ancient practices and ways of the larger church. It’s a synthesis of particularity and catholicity. The result is something more graceful and beautiful.

In that process will some of the more questionable practices of the parish end? Yes, some will just fade away as new and more compelling ways emerge. Might there be a need for the priest to give a nudge or to refuse to save someone’s favorite activity? Yes, there’s a need for wisdom and courage.

Our task in parish development is not simply the overcoming of folk religion or superficiality. It is connecting those things to something that is broader and deeper and richer. It is connecting the ways and traditions and customs of the parish church to those of the larger Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church throughout the world and history. And as we do that we may find ourselves relaxing; better able to enjoy all of parish life.


A List of All Postings



Independence Day 2013



[i] Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1–3, 1863. While I’m often uncertain about when we are dealing with coincidence and when God’s action, I am struck by how this battle that determines the future of the American experiment takes place just before our national birthday.  The Gettysburg Address is a speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the battle. It was at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

[ii] Hebrews 11: 13 Propers for Independence Day

[iii] The word piety comes from the Latin word pietas, the noun form of the adjective piust (which means "devout" or "good"). Pietas in traditional Latin usage expressed a complex, highly valued Roman virtue; a man with pietas respected his responsibilities to gods, country, parents, and kin.

[iv] Based on Hebrews 10:22 "Blessed Assurance" lyrics written in 1873 by Fanny J. Crosby to the music written in 1873 by Phoebe P. Knapp.

[v] In Seven to Flee, Seven to Follow, 1986

[vi] “The United States: Experiment in Democracy” by Avery Craven and Walter Johnson, Ginn and Company, 1962.

[vii] There are many expressions of these values. I like this one by President Truman, “You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break.”

[viii] “America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success.”  Sigmund Freud

[ix] NY Times article on LBJ at Gettysburg 1963    LBJ's speech

[x]Why They Fought”, David Brooks, NYT July 2, 2013  

[xi] Hebrews 11: 16 Propers for Independence Day

[xii] Benjamin Franklin letter to Samuel Cooper, May 1, 1777. Also affirmed by others-- "Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!" George Washington letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779 and "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind." Thomas Paine in "Common Sense" January 10, 1776 

[xiii] See blog posting on “The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life” 

[xiv] The idea of the loving critic was in John Gardner’s commencement address, “Uncritical Lovers – Unloving Critics,” at Cornell University on June 1, 1968. See "An Approach to Developing a Working Theology of Organizations"   and "Ministry To and Through Institutions: The Equipping of Loving Critics" by Dick Broholm. A PDF on Gardner's "model."

[xv] Careful here. My point is that biblical passages don’t resolve complex issues. As the Bible includes both the destruction of the Egyptians at the Red Sea as well as passages such as this one in Micah maybe we’re called to be Anglicans. That’s to say be comprehensive -- Fenhagen wites, “Rather than doctrinal uniformity…being able to hold together seeming opposites. John Westerhoff wrote, “truth is known and guarded by maintaining the tension between counter-opposite statements concerning truth, …personal freedom and communal responsibility, …sacred and secular.”  This stance toward truth goes hand-in-hand with our tradition’s valuing of ambiguity and openness. We tolerate a certain kind of theological messiness as we wait to see more clearly.  We live with differences.

[xvi] Shape of the Parish model 

[xvii] See blog on “Two misleading mental models on leadership” 

[xviii] Shape of the Parish model

[xix] The Renewal-Apostolate Cycle 

[xx] The Process of Change and list of competencies

[xxi] Michelle Heyne’s “In your Holy Spirit: Traditional Spiritual Practices in Today’s Christian Life” is one resource.   There are also related resources here.