One of the joys of living in San Diego is being a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral. (There are many not-joys of living in SD too, but those are for another time.) Today happened to be Pentacost, which, if you are not familiar with the ins and outs of various church festival days, is all about the Holy Spirit appearing to the apostles and everybody suddenly speaking in tongues. In short, weird but meaningful stuff that I don’t find the need to take too literally.
The service itself was simply splendid. Incense, waving streamers, a postlude called Fanfare to the Tongues of Fire that probably used all of the organ’s stops (including trumpets!), and all the expected pomp and circumstance. In addition to all this, the service was done half in English and half in Spanish, there were four baptisms plus the usual communion, and the reading about speaking in tongues was presented in a unique way. It was read from the pulpit in English, and partway through some half dozen people in the congregation stood up and began to read the same passage simultaneously in foreign languages. It was really breathtaking. As if all that wasn’t enough, the sermon was all about welcoming estranged others – in particular, homosexual teenagers who had been shunned by their families – into God’s all-encompassing love.
As I was perusing the leaflet for the service, I found a sheet at the back entitled “Living the Questions.” Really??!! And here I was being so clever coming up with a unique name for a blog! But here is an excerpt:
“The Episcopal Church began with a question. Could a church change its loyalties in this world and still be loyal to Jesus? The Reformation’s answer was yes. It showed that we learn more about God when we ask our questions and listen for the answers in prayers and in the words of others in our communities. We began in a disagreement and our history tells us that the church survives disagreements when it stays focused on the importance of coming together to give thanks to God and to do God’s reconciling work.”
I know, I know, this is a lot of church-y stuff for an inaugural a second blog post. But all religious entanglements aside, I guess what really struck me today is how little we know, and how important it is to ask questions and work with others to make any kind of forward progress. If you take another look at the quote above and reword it without any mention of church or religious faith, it rings just as true:
“Life poses a question. Can we change our loyalties and still be true to ourselves? The answer is yes. We learn the most when we ask questions and listen for answers in the words and actions of our friends and neighbors. We will certainly encounter disagreement, but history tells us we can survive disagreements if we stay focused on the importance of coming together in thanksgiving and working to make the world a better place.”
And that is why I believe that everything is connected, and why this blog is called Living Questions.