Monday, October 15, 2012

Coming Clean: My Liturgical Formation at a Methodist Divinity School



On the short flight back to Chicago from the Province V Chaplains' Conference in Gambier, Ohio - flight out of Columbus - I listened to this hour-long podcast by Sam Wells via Anglican1000.org. Sam Wells, priest in the Church of England, served as the Dean of Duke Chapel during my time at the divinity school there. His wife, the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, was hugely instrumental in my three seminary journey through her role as Director of the newly formed Anglican/Episcopal House of Studies.

I share the link to the podcast here less out of nostalgia and more because I found the whole talk helpful and the first part beautiful - so beautiful that I took the time to transcribe it here, though if you do read it, read it out loud; it needs to be read slowly.

I also share it because, as a Duke alum, people are never quite sure where to place my liturgical sensibilities. I grew up in an Anglo-Catholic parish, studied economics at Wheaton College, and so of course proceeded to undertake seminary training at a Methodist divinity school. I share this beginning of Sam's podcast in part because I feel like it is a good theological account of the liturgical formation I received at Duke.

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"There is a power at the heart of the universe. It's what brought the universe about, and it's what will bring the whole show to an end one day. And that power is so shaped never to be except to be with us. And the name for that shaping is 'Trinity'. And the way in which we see that shaping is Jesus. And God's commitment never to be except to be with us in Jesus is so powerful that Jesus becomes just like us. And, if we were in any doubt whatsoever of God's commitment to be shaped to be with us and to be with us to the very end, then on the cross we see that Jesus is prepared to risk even being with God in order always to be us. And we have two days of uncertainty - whether this amazing gift we've been given...that Jesus has shown us that he will be with us even at the risk of continuing to be with God - and that anxiety is resolved on Easter Day, the day of new creation, the last day, the first day, the every day in which we see that nothing can separate, not only God from us, but nothing can separate God from God. And that creates the most dynamic power there ever has been and ever will be and is released upon us in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and all the gifts of the Spirit. And those gifts are everything we need to reclaim our past in the forgiveness of sins and to discover our future in eternal life. Those gifts are everything we need to worship, to be God's friends, and to eat with God forever in the banquet of the Kingdom.

"If worship proclaims and embodies and displays that - it's good. To the extent that it misses any of that out, it's not as good as it could be."


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