2015 Lent 17

Sierra Madre

Jeremiah 7:1-15

Jeremiah’s calling was difficult.  He stood alone against the world.

The Temple in Jerusalem was run by the priests and scribes, leaders who proclaimed a message believed by everyone except Jeremiah.  “This is the Temple of the Lord,” they said.  And everyone answered, “Yea, and amen.”  Everyone, that is, except Jeremiah.

The people took a lot of pride in their Temple.  Rightly so, too, for it was a wonder.

But what if God himself had left the Temple some time ago?  What if God had become tired of the people who worshiped there, for their worship had turned away from God and onto each other?  What if managing the Temple had become such a business to the leaders that the almighty dollar trumped the actual Almighty in importance?  What if God looked around one day, saw that he was no longer needed, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “I’m outa here”?  And what if no one noticed?

Well, someone noticed.  His name was Jeremiah.

But no one else did.

Jeremiah stood alone.

Nevertheless, Jeremiah did not split.  He did not say, “Fine!  God’s outa here; so I’m outa here too!”  As discussed in an earlier post, Jeremiah did not pack up his motorcycle and head off into the mountains of Mexico.

But that is just what so many people are doing today in the Episcopal Church.  They see something flawed.  Maybe the leaders are calloused to their real calling: spiritual leadership.  Maybe the almighty dollar has trumped the church’s purpose.  Maybe worship has become more a social event than a time to commune with Christ.

I don’t know: every naysayer has a reason.

But the naysayers are leaving, and have been in droves for the last four decades.  Surely, now the mountains of Mexico feel more like an organized township than a wilderness camp.

Especially, of late, there is this group that has taken the name Anglican for itself.  Subgroups you may have heard of are the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), and the Anglican Province in America (APA).  The ironic thing here is that the people who are a part of this so-called Anglican group–many of whom have left the Episcopal Church in droves–are not recognized today by the global Anglican Communion, the organization spearheaded by the actual Anglican Church (the Church of England).  But the Episcopal Church is.  (Who are the real Anglicans here?)

Sheesh!  They ought to call themselves–a spade!–what they really are: Disaffected Evangelicals Formerly on the Episcopal Church’s Team (DEFECT).

But I suppose that doesn’t have quite the attractive ring to it.  And they need to be attractive to people, after all.  For they need to draw in as many seekers as they can in order to get as much money as they can to start and maintain the best programs they can and run the business side of their churches the best they can, after all.

Which, by the way, brings us full circle.

Which, in turn, has led to yet more splits.

(Which leads me to wonder, should the split-offs of the split-offs call themselves Anglicaners, since according to their definition they’re even more Anglican than the group from which they split?)

But, I remind all you naysayers and splitters and splitters from splitters out there, Jeremiah never went to Mexico on his motorcycle.

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