Thursday, September 20, 2007

The crossroads in New Orleans

I visited New Orleans for the first time on the weekend of August 3 this year. In a word, I found the city nothing short of extraordinary. I must confess that before I visited, last month, I was skeptical about how I'd react to the "Big Easy." I did not believe that I would count myself among those find the city, and all its myriad charms and foibles, irresistible.

But after going to New Orleans, after seeing the city in all of its gritty, strange beauty, I fell in love with it -- with it's history, with it's sense of perseverance despite come-what-may, and with its pervasive aura, this utter sense of immediate and present spiritual warfare. It's a unusual reaction, I'm sure, but it's one to which I keep coming back.

I had a crossroads of my own in New Orleans this summer, and I find it somewhat ironic that the American expression of Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church of the United States, is facing its own crossroads in the Crescent City.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the world's almost 80 million Anglicans, and the third-largest Christian church in the world, is in New Orleans to meet with the leaders of the American church. His Grace Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop and Primate of All England, has come to Louisiana to encourage those who continue in the post-Katrina recovery, but he has also come to mediate a dispute in the American expression of Anglican Christianity.

As and the Bishops of the United States meet, I join with thousands across the country in praying:

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be thou present with those who takest counsel in the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the United States for the renewal and mission of thy Church. Teach us in all things to seek first thine honor and glory. Guide thou us to perceive that which is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give unto us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; takest away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.

--Prayers for a Church Convention, for the Unity of the Church, and for the Church; from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

FEELING: Anxious
LISTENING TO: The Socratic method in class


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