Friday, April 20, 2018

I do understand. Sometimes, seminarians decide that their work life balance requires more sleep in the morning. Sometimes, there is a sense that the liturgy is not "feeding me". Sometimes, it is frustration with the institution that leads to the decision to be absent from worship as a protest. Sometimes there is a decision to participate in personal devotions in one's apartment and then attend an evening office (perhaps Sung Evensong) once a week. Sometimes it is this sense that an Ordo Eucharist was so inappropriate that one has decided to VTS is just theologically unsound and going elsewhere for the Eucharist is the right thing to do. I really do understand how these modes of thinking take over; and the discipline of one daily act of corporate worship is broken.

So today, I invite all our seminarians into the following exercise. Everyone, both lay and ordained, will be involved in parish leadership. In your congregation, there will be members of the parish reasoning in the same way. "We need Sunday as family time" or "I prefer to walk in a park rather than attend church" or "I really can't attend church after that General Convention". The task as a leader of the congregation will be to respond to those sentiments. The obligation will be to explain why worship is a rest from busyness, a gift to family, a vehicle that supports the spiritual dimension of nature, and why disagreement cannot justify denying our role in the Body of Christ. This is the task of ministry.

After doing this exercise, I invite us all to renew our attendance. Sometimes we have to be away. But when we are on campus, let us persuade ourselves that the habit of a daily corporate act of worship does matter. It matters for us; and it matters for those we will be called to serve. 

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D
Dean and President 
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