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Blogging the SCP Conference 2010: Day 3

November 12, 2010


It seems hard to believe that as I write this the conference has come to its official close, though there is still Morning Prayer and Low Mass tomorrow morning.  I felt like today was extraordinarily fruitful for both my mind and my spirit (but not my body: there were too many cookies!).  The two presentations today were stunning in their practicality, their timeliness, and their style.  I really felt like I learned a lot today and at one moment I reflected, “This is what seminary should have been like all the time.”  The first topic, presented by a lay person, was on a very intriguing issue:  receiving communion without first being baptized.  The presenter, as well as the majority of us gathered clergy, were opposed to the idea.  Only two spoke in favor.  I don’t want to say too much about it here for fear of ruining what will very likely be my sermon on Sunday, but suffice it to say it was a theologically astute and intellectually stimulating conversation on an issue that is being raised at the national level most of the time in a way that sort of backhandedly sweeps away the church’s longstanding understanding of the sacraments in favor of single faceted desire to be inclusive.  (See, already I’ve said too much!)  What I found most helpful was, whereas if someone came up to me and asked me if I thought it was ok to receive communion without first being baptized, I would say no, but if asked to articulate that thought or expand on my monosyllabic reply, I don’t think I could do so in a way that wasn’t snarky or dismissive.  After today’s stellar presentation and discussion, I feel well equipped.  More on that to come Sunday following the Gospel, immediately prior to the Creed.


We then celebrated Sung High Mass – amazing!  The worship space here reminds me of ours in many ways and I like that.  I think what amazed me today was the overwhelming sense of collegiality I felt while worshiping – something I hope you feel at St. George’s and something which I hope to be able to continue to inculcate.  It was also smoky.


The afternoon was given over to free time (read: nap time) and then to another excellent presentation, this time from our society’s chaplain.  The topic was the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  Our presenter helped me to be able to think about this Sacrament in some new and helpful ways, and her energy on the topic was infectious.  We talked about how in many ways, in practice, this Sacrament has been “watered down” or so turned inside out as to become somewhat meaningless or at least, less meaningful.  We discussed the curious tendency (and I am guilty of this at a couple points in my life) to want to go to receive the laying on of hands and the anointing on the behalf of someone else.  While we talked about that from a variety of angles, one in particular stuck out to me: it is far easier for us to point of the sickness of others than to admit to our own sickness.  And we are talking about sickness here – anointing is not some cheap, back door way to reconciliation without confession or penance.


Anyway, as you can probably tell, I am having a blast and while I will be sad to leave my SCP sisters and brothers tomorrow, I am excited to be able to come back to you refreshed, energized, and with so much to share with you.  We are still just in the beginning of an incredible journey and I am blessed to be be able to be your priest and rector.  Thank you.


Fr. Ryan+

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