Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Considering the Pilgrimage

"The purpose of a pilgrimage is the renewal of identities." 

"Pilgrimage is the arousal and education of desire for God. Displaced from its self-directedness, the self is attracted elsewhere, from its own relative darkness to the light that it comes to know through the name of God."

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Omaha
We are on pilgrimage together. And the purpose of a pilgrimage is the renewal of identities. It is rediscovering what has always been deep inside and all around us -- that we are made for an epic love affair with God. That we as the church exist to be the Body of Christ ... literally the incarnation of the irresistibility of the attractiveness of the Divine. To be Christ in such a way so "the whole world sees and knows 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, God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

As Christ Church Cathedral, we reflect this in the core of our mission statement: "We seek a deeper relationship with God and each other in Jesus Christ." Our purpose is seeking to be drawn more deeply and passionately into this love affair. We do this through celebrating the sacraments faithfully, proclaiming the Gospel boldly, embracing diversity joyfully and serving all passionately as a Cathedral.

We do this not just or even primarily for ourselves but so that we can be an irresistible light to which all are drawn ... the light of Christ.

This week, I am on a smaller pilgrimage, related to the one we all share together.

As we have gone through our own process of renewing our identity as an Episcopal Cathedral in St. Louis, I have been in touch with others -- also early in their lives as Cathedral deans -- who have the same desire to imagine how God might be using Cathedrals differently as we enter this third millennium.

I asked three of these deans (truly, many others could be joining us -- the guest list was more about who came to me in prayer and wanting to keep this small than anything else!) -- Penny Bridges of St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego, Gail Greenwell of Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, and Craig Loya of Trinity Cathedral in Omaha -- if they would be interested in spending a few days together in an intimate gathering sharing our experiences and hopes as Cathedral deans -- and seeing if a sense of common purpose emerges.

Thankfully, they said yes, so from this evening through Thursday lunch, we will be gathering at the Procter Center in London, Ohio.  I asked a dear friend and fine theologian, the Rev. Dr. Bill Danaher, to be our guide and shepherd us through this time, and, thankfully, he agreed. Over our time together, Bill will frame our conversations with meditations, prayer and worship.

In preparation for this time, Bill had us read Daniel Hardy's book ... a remarkable account of his thoughts on the Church at the end of his life ... shaped by his experience of pilgrimage in the Holy Land (something, as providence would have it, all five of us have experienced in the last year).

We are open to these conversations being the beginning of something that could expand in breadth and depth ... and also that this might be five pilgrims meeting at a waystation who might or might not cross paths again.

I am looking forward not only to being with these fine priests and friends but to offering up the work we have been doing these past several years -- and especially the crucible of the past 10 months -- for their consideration and perspective. And at the same time, I'm looking forward to hear from them how they are wrestling with some of the same questions we have:

How are we doing showing Jesus to our city and the world? What does that renewal of identity look like today and what might it look like tomorrow?

As we consider the future of our buildings, how can we use them to draw more and more people into this love affair with God?

In a world that is increasingly self-directed, how can we be bearers of a different and truly irresistible light?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on these things. And please hold us all in prayer during this time ... and I look forward to sharing more about this in a few days.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Mike and all, God's blessings on you during this time! I am so glad that you, Mike, are able to take the experience we shared on Chapter over the last year with you. As you share and reflect together on your ministry as Deans of Cathedrals, may Mary, the original "Christ-Bearer" be with you and help you by her example ("Do whatever he tells you") and intercession, to come to a greater understanding of your shared role as facilitator, exemplar, prophet, and guide to the people entrusted to your care as well as to the greater Church. With all of you in prayer, Tom