Being Born Again

A Scouting friend, and Episcopal lay-person (who, by the way, is trying to discern a call to ministry
in the Church) contacted me recently. His EfM (Education for Ministry) group read through and
discussed a recent book by someone on Presiding Bishop Curry’s staff. He was troubled by some
of what was being presented to the Church. Stephanie Spellers book is The Church Cracked Open:
Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community. She describes how the pandemic,
racial tension, political divide, mass shootings have ‘cracked open’ our society, and placed pressure
on the Church as community. (I am going to invite a parish book reading/discussion group this
fall to explore and respond to what Stephanie suggests).
In responding on the Intro and first chapter to my friend that in a Diocesan Clergy (Zoom)
gathering we were asked what this past year or two has given us anxiety? Typical responses were
given – you can come up with them yourselves. I replied, “Ruining retirement plans, coming to a
new parish, buying a house, while the pandemic still had my new parish closed for in-person
worship. What was God thinking?!?”
Then it dawned on me. I started here at St. Paul’s just as we were rejoicing in the gift of the Holy
Spirit at Pentecost. God was calling me to be “Born Again” as a Priest and as a parish Rector. God
was “cracking my egg” maybe to make an breaking-fast omelet.
The other shoe dropped. Could God be calling St. Paul’s to be cracked open? Presiding Bishop
Curry said as we shared with him what Shaped by Faith is doing around us in the Northern Tier,
in Shippensburg and around the Diocese, he said, “Jesus is coming again! The 1950s are not.”
WOW! That was an eye-opening statement of truth, is it not?!
I invite any and all of you who want to be “cracked pots” to read Canon Stephanie’s book, join in
conversation, both challenging our presumptions of what Church was, is, and can be, and
motivating us to see far into the future.
Phyllis Tickle, renowned religion scholar and commentator reminded us that every 500 years a
“Re-Formation” has occurred in the Church. Before she died a few years ago, she suggested that
this is now a time that the Church will be re-formed. What that new vision will be relies on each
of us. As you heard in a Children’s Sermon a few weeks ago, I believe God calls us to constantly
think “outside the box.” The kids got it, and the congregation laughed at the message – in, I pray,
a wonderfully positive sense. After all in these past years of Chaos, God might just make a New
Creation! May it be so, right here, right now.
Father Ed

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