Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Yesterday was a staff retreat. We were asked to talk about some hopes and dreams for the upcoming year.

One thing that I'd like to get started is a weekly Evening Prayer service. I think it's important for the cathedral to be a house of prayer for the city and the diocese. The cathedral should resound and be sanctified by the continual prayers of the people.

To that end I'm going to try to learn how to sing the prayers. That involves overcoming a lot of fear and insecurities I have. I've always been a little timid when it comes to singing, but when it comes to singing prayers I need to be bold. Pick a note and run with it. Chant done well lifts the soul to incredible heights.

Interfaith relations, pt 1

Omaha will be hosting an interfaith event in March of next year. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church will be presentas well as the chief rabbi of the Reform movement and the head of the Islamic Society of North America. It'll be an exciting time here!

It's all being put together by a local interfaith organization. The director of my internship program said that such great cooperation between local congregations of the Abrahamic faiths (to the point that they plan on buying property together and building houses of worship there) is only possible here in the Midwest, and I can see why.

There's a degree of hospitality that's unique, it seems, to the region. From what I hear (and have yet to experience), even the rabid Husker fans won't boo or harass the opposing team. Husker fans tend to be devoted to Nebraska football but aren't so fanatical that they'd go so far as to denigrate others.

This might be food for thought in our multireligious country. Can we be hospitable to others without giving up our identity and devotion? Can we be gracious to others without worrying that they'll think we're insane Huskers fans?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Community and Annual Council

This weekend was the diocesan council here in Nebraska.

Since I wasn't a delegate, I didn't have any votes or anything, but it didn't seem to matter much. There was only one session of balloting, and the other votes were taken viva voce. There was just one resolution (which was about the environment), and it wasn't discussed or debated at all.

At first I thought it was silly to not have any real 'business.' It felt like a great waste of time to just get together, many people driving long distances (the drive for me was eight hours) to get there.

Later on, though, it became apparent that 'business' wasn't really the point. Yes, it had to be done; numbers had to be presented, ministries celebrated, and the usual courtesy resolutions; however, there was a lot of community building going on. I got to spend time with the delegates from a very small church in a very small town. Council brought us together for fellowship. I would never have had the chance to just sit and talk with people from far across the diocese if we were focused on 'business.' After fierce wrangling over resolutions or budgets, would we have had enough good will and energy to share table fellowship?

It may have felt like we weren't getting anything done, but connections and relationships were made, repaired and strengthened.

That isn't to say there's no risk in handling convention this way; it could be that healthy debate is stifled for 'unity.' Given that I've only been here for a handful of months, I can't say either way for certain, but from my limited perspective it seemed that people were happy to come together.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


This morning I attended the meeting of the local downtown business/residents association. A parishioner attended with me to help me get acquainted with some of the important people down there. It was hard trying to meet and greet as many people as possible as I'm quite new to the whole 'networking' thing. I don't know how to work a room.

After the meeting, she took me out to breakfast at her favorite little cafe downtown which she goes to every week for lunch. When we were about to sit down, another parishioner who will be moving back east soon entered and we invited her to sit with us. She's having a hard time leaving the congregation she's been a part of for over thirty years, and it was nice to have her sit and eat with us.

The parishioner who took me out to breakfast is going to celebrate her 85th birthday tomorrow. The owner of the cafe then brought out a cake to give to her in honor and as a gift to a frequent
customer. At 10:00 this morning, I was eating a slice of Italian cream cake dessert after a delicious breakfast.

In all of this, I realized part of my work here in Omaha is about hospitality. The downtown organization was fairly welcoming to me as a lowly intern from that one church off Capitol Street. We were welcoming to a parishioner who was having a hard time leaving us. The cafe owner was welcoming to someone who might otherwise be seen as 'just a customer.'

How is the Church welcoming? And how does the Church accept the hospitality around her?

What do we do with those people who show up one Sunday and never come back? The problem could be that we assume that they'll never come back anyway, so why bother? Or maybe we're over-enthusiastic, overwhelming them?

And today's Forward Day by Day meditation talks about bread. Delicious bread: it's both a staple food and also one of the most delicious things ever made. Perhaps we should have a fresh loaf on hand to give to new people. Maybe we should also take a piece off the loaf so they remember that we have broken bread with them and that our house (well, God's house) is open for them.