I’ve just about finished reading the “Blue Book” (which is burgundy) – the Report to the upcoming General Convention.
Arkansas will be happy to know that Bishop Edward Thomas Demby is included in the proposed revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, sharing April 14 with Henry Beard Delany, the second African American bishop, and father of the famous Delany sisters. The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has created an entirely updated proposed calendar for lesser feasts, adding many new observances (no one from LFF was dropped). The new publication would be called “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.” And we’ll have three readings for each commemoration instead of two.
Another major contribution from the Liturgy and Music Commission is a thorough and flexible resource of liturgies and prayers for healing from loss related to childbearing and childbirth, “Rachel’s Tears, Hannah’s Hopes.”
If you’d like to look at “Rachel’s Tears, Hannah’s Hopes” and at the proposed replacement for Lesser Feasts “Holy Women, Holy Mean” you can access a pdf online. The report from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is nearly 400 pages however.
The other item that caught my attention in the Blue Book was a proposed “Statement on Interreligious Relations,” developed by the Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.
This statement is intended to establish a foundation for the Episcopal Church in our processes in interreligious and interfaith dialogues. Just as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral serves as the basis for our ecumenical conversations with other Christian bodies, the Commission proposes this text as a basis for our conversations with other religions. I found it to be a remarkable and compelling piece of work, worthy of study and debate.
If you would like to read it, it is Resolution A074. The resolution is at the bottom of page 154 of the Blue Book. The explanation and the Official Text is pages 155-162. It is about 2/3rd of the way through the Commission’s report, click to access on line.
(the first part of this report includes the proposed agreement with the Moravian Church. You’ll have to scroll past that to page 155)
Just a taste of it the proposed “Statement on Interreligious Relations”:
9. “Today the picture of the world we have to carry is of the earth seen from space. Borders and boundaries are fluid, easily fractured, and unstable. The peoples of the earth will either survive together or perish together. Paradoxically our entire world is, at the same time, housed inside the flat screens of computers that provide immediate access to almost anyone or anything at anytime, anywhere on the planet. Crises and conflicts that were once local matters and seemed to be none of our concern are now global.”
14. “We understand the Holy Scriptures to be inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and at the same time the work of human authors, editors, and compilers. …We believe the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in our growing understanding of the Scriptures, which are always to be interpreted in the widest possible context of God’s redeeming love for all people.”
17. “…It is not a unity of opinion or a sameness of vision that hold us together. Rather, it is the belief that we are called to walk together in Jesus’ path of reconciliation not only through our love for the other, but also through our respect for the legitimacy of the reasoning of the other.”
26. “…In all of this, we affirm that Christianity needs to be lived and presented as ‘a way of life’, rather than a static set of beliefs.”
27. “Christians being to the conversation Jesus on and beyond the Cross. We see the Cross as transformative for every faith tradition including Christianity itself. We present the Cross as the Christian symbol and act of self-emptying, humility, redemptive suffering, sacrificial self-giving, and unvanquished love. Jesus’ death and resurrection frame the dialogue for us. Values such as reconciliation, peace-making, and forgiveness are what we bring to the discussion of salvation.
28. “Our invitation in dialogue is to ask all religions to tell us where they embody such values and how they experience and understand what we call salvation…”
And from the concluding paragraph 34:
“Interreligious relations are no longer about competing faiths, but about mutual demonstrations of Love Incarnate. We close this statement encouraged by Dr. King’s word: ‘Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about human reality is beautifully summed up in the first Epistle of St. John: “Let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. The one who loves not does not know God, for God is love. …If we love one another God dwells in us, and God’s love is perfected in us.”’”
I think it is an important piece of work and worth attention.