Magazine article Anglican Journal

View from the Pew

Magazine article Anglican Journal

View from the Pew

Article excerpt

IT IS THE first time in many years that I have some free time on a Saturday morning. The email says they are going to gather on the beach for a few minutes of silence to protest proposed oil tanker traffic on the coast. Having entered the blessed state of retirement, I turn up.

Last year, they tell me, 400 people protested the disastrous oil blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico. This year, they are hoping for 1,000.

We number about 50.

We stand in silence and a photo of us--a line of cutouts silhouetted against the ocean horizon--makes the front page of the newspaper the next day. I am the fourth shadow from the left.

The sand smells good. I haven't stood on a beach to smell the sand in my own city for years. People and dogs and kids are all having fun. Amazing.

The next morning, Sunday, I find myself sitting in a pew in an unfamiliar church. I am being challenged by a liturgy I thought I knew inside out.

I listen in a new way. I hear over and over again the message of good news and hope ... in the face of sin.

Suddenly I'm back on the beach. The people standing in that silent line are afraid that we have ruined the planet. We've all heard the list of horrors. The scientists lead us in repeating the litany every day--the planet is ruined "... through our fault, through our fault, through our most grievous fault." We are all living with the guilt.

So, it turns out, the sin's fairly clear. Everyone feels it pressing the life out of us. The liturgy got that one right.

But where is the hope that this liturgy keeps proclaiming?

If we pray hard enough, will God suddenly appear and replace all the fish, remove the carbon dioxide, re-freeze the icecaps and end global warming? Nobody expects that. There are consequences to what we have done and we must face up to them.

That doesn't feel like hope. …

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