Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Bishop Speaks of The New Day

The Bishop Speaks of The New Day

The notion of being more spiritual and less religious has a great appeal for some people. On occasion I am one of those people. This is that occasion.

If you want to move gently into the world of words, and engage the word “religion,' you will find a mess. The word, religio, will lead you more deeply into mess and opinion.

This is great! The only way out it to select your favorite and move on. It is somewhat like engaging the “The Trinity” on Trinity Sunday. Sometimes it is just better to select the version you like best and move on.

That having been said. The word, religion, comes from the Latin root, religio, from which we take words such as “ruler.” It signifies the notion of measurement and the holding of a standard by which one is measured.

One of the things which can happen when we are organized around religio is that it becomes easy to be righteous. Some people seem to believe there is a righteousness scale from which we accumulate points which lead us to good feelings about ourselves and perhaps bad feelings about others.

I believe the church is not called to be more righteous. I believe the church is called to be more holy. Righteous and self-righteousness are rather like roommates. Holiness, on the other hand, is our call into relationship with God. It is knowingly being in that relationship which sends us forth into the world.

It is time for the church to stop being so weary and to perhaps lighten up about some of the things which seem to concern or preoccupy us at times; the things which make us so certain of who we are in our being.

It is a new day and we must declare it from this moment on. It is a new day. Our call is to be the church reborn. We are called to be the church which has recaptured the Spirit which set it on fire in the beginning.

Let those, who can hear these words, be different from the rest of the church. Let us be different from the world of politics and intrigue . . . . I have a sense if we are willing to take the first steps on the journey in this manner, the right action will open up for us. We will discover our true nature in the reflecting pool.

How would such a church look? How would it worship? Would it cherish silence, respect, would it tell the same story over and over, would it have a building, would it meet every week, would it encourage people to do more than behave and be present? And on and on.

Our commission is to make disciples for the living God, and there is only one way to do it. (Incidentally, it does not have much to do with changing the way people think.) We are called to be something which, others can see, which is good and holy and sometimes even a little righteous.

I have great hope for the church because I have faith in you. I know that out of all of the broken hearts and stumbles along the trail, there still exists within you that spark which waits quietly to be rekindled.

We are the church. Live that way. We are in this together even if we do not know one another. We Are One!


  1. A very good definition of religion. Your article is very hopeful and optimistic. We need a positive voice once in awhile and you have hit the nail on the head with this one. Thanks Bob.


  2. Bishop Bob, your voice in the wilderness of “religiosity” is a welcome call to those who still have hope for the future of the Episcopal Church. The “We/They” continuum used to have believers scattered along the entire length. It seems that today the continuum has mutated into a teeter-totter with most of the Church leadership sitting on the “they” end – and in control. It is time the “we” people stopped playing the game.

  3. Thanks, Bob, our hope is in an historic articulation of a reasonable and holy hope and not in beliefs or faith statements. Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church has best lived and proclaimed a broad faith articulated into very specific, effective and successful visions and projects that have made hope real: Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence and Venture in Mission to name two over the last fifty years. Hope made real. Real inclusiveness has been in inviting many people into specific,effective and well executed acts of hope.