Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bloom Where You Are Planted

“It seems to me, Mother,” said Alfred, “that I had just no idea of the amount of turmoil there was in the Episcopal Church when we first joined St. Fiacre’s.”

“That’s the truth, Alfred,” said Mother, “nor had I expected the turmoil that has been caused by people like Ima Hatchett and Moana Crutchley. Gossip and backbiting is really tiresome. I might complain about them to you, but that’s safe. I’m not going to compound the problems by joining in the fracas.”

“Well, Mother,” said Alfred, “I don’t really find them easy to deal with either. The press and the internet just love to pick up negative stuff and run with it. Have you ever noticed the artificial excitement of news commentators when they are puffing up the next juicy tidbit?”

“Alfred,” said Mother, “It just goes to show: Never do anything wrong on a slow news day. Sure enough you will end up hitting the headlines.”

Alfred replied, “The complainers in the parish and the commentators on larger church affairs are all cut from the same bolt of cloth. It’s a power thing. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong; but whether right or wrong they just stir up fears and stress in those who listen to them.”

“What can we do, Alfred? What can we do?” said Mother.

“Put things in perspective, Mother,” said Alfred. First, as for those on the parish level, whatever we do, we can’t give them credence. If we don’t like what they are saying we can choose to ignore it, or when the time is right just say ‘I don’t feel that way about it.’ If we play the game with them, they win, and we only end up being upset.

“There’s really nothing new under the sun,” said Alfred, picking up a book from his desk. “I was reading Alfred Plummer’s, The Church of England in the Eighteenth Century, the other day. Listen to what he has to say, In 1771 some clergy petitioned Parliament in England because they wanted to abolish the traditional teaching of the Church. Edmund Burke, a member of Parliament replied,

“These gentlemen complain of hardships: … They want to be preferred clergymen of the Church of England …; but their consciences will not suffer them to conform to the doctrines and practices of that Church.  … They want to be teachers in a Church to which they do not belong; and it is an odd sort of hardship.  They want to be paid for teaching one set of doctrines, whilst they are teaching another.”

“Our parish is named after St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners,” said Alfred, “Instead of pulling up our roots to go look for better soil, we should work on cultivating our own spiritual garden and bloom where we are planted. There has always been stress in the Church because the Church is made up of people. But the poet John Donne put things in the right perspective when he said,’ The Scriptures are God’s voyce; the Church is His eccho.’ The denial of the authority of Holy Scripture leads to confusion and spiritual despair.

“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built” [Luke 6:47-48]. 

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