I was honored to be asked to serve as chaplain to the Province IV Synod. Below are Wednesday's reflections. These reflections came before and after presentations by the Presiding Bishop and the Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile.
Dwight Zscheile, in his new book People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity, suggests that we might do well to use the story of the sending of the seventy disciples as we think about how to be a church of mission in the 21st century. We are called, he explains, to not just offer hospitality, but we must also be able to receive it--we must learn to be guests. (p. 78)
Luke 10:1-2, from the Common English Bible:
[After telling his disciples to let the dead bury their own dead], the Lord commissioned seventy-two others and sent them on ahead in pairs to every city and place he was about to go. He said to them, “The harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest. Go! Be warned, though, that I’m sending you out as lambs among wolves. Carry no wallet, no bag, and no sandals. Don’t even greet anyone along the way. Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘May peace be on this house.’ If anyone there shares God’s peace, then your peace will rest on that person. If not, your blessing will return to you. Remain in this house, eating and drinking whatever they set before you, for workers deserve their pay. Don’t move from house to house. Whenever you enter a city and its people welcome you, eat what they set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘God’s kingdom has come upon you.’ Whenever you enter a city and the people don’t welcome you, go out into the streets and say, ‘As a complaint against you, we brush off the dust of your city that has collected on our feet. But know this: God’s kingdom has come to you.’ I assure you that Sodom will be better off on Judgment Day than that city.
We must be people on the Way, followers of Jesus, learning to be in relationship with our neighbors.
Zscheile writes in his introduction:
"In the book of Acts, the early Christian movement came to be known as "the Way." Jesus' followers were people of the Way. They were not so much members of an institution or adherents to a particular set of developed doctrines as they were disciples (learners, students, or apprentices) of a holistic way of life in Christ, through the power of the Spirit. This way of life brought them attention from the surrounding pagan society. They became both noted and notorious for their subversion of the idolatries of empire, for their compassion for society's most vulnerable, for their egalitarian community life, and for their high ethical norms. Something powerfully compelling was taking place in their midst, and it pointed beyond the to God's presence and activity. For a world riven by oppression, hierarchy, authoritarianism, inequality, disease, and despair, this way of life in Christ gave tremendous hope." (p.5)
He then asks us this pertinent question as we gather as the Church to consider the mission of the Church: "What might it mean for the Episcopal Church to live into a renewed identity as people of the Way of Jesus in our time and place?"
Let us pray.
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the Fourth Province of the Episcopal Church for the
renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- from the The Book of Common Prayer, Collect 12, for a Church Convention or Meeting p. 818
N.B., There are two "propers" for mission in our lectionary--the gospels for those are Matthew 28:16-20 and Luke 10:1-9.
Wednesday evening's concluding prayer:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
-From the Ordinal in the Book of Common Prayer, pg. 515, etc.
Followed by Hymn 499, a paraphrase of the Song of Simeon, traditionally included as part of evening prayer.