Cathedral Age honors the Cathedral’s ninth dean by reprinting his final sermon in this issue (p.35), but that sermon by no means represents the only time in which Dean Lloyd has articulated a compelling vision for the institution in his care. For a richer sense of that vision, we offer three additional examples from recent reflections.
In January and February of 2009, responding to the enormous pain generated by the Great Recession, Lloyd presented “Finding Peace in a Global Storm,” a two-part “Sunday Forum” lecture on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. “The reality is that things go bad, sometimes terribly,” he confessed, “but those are also times when God is at work with enormous vitality and creativity, making it possible for new things to begin to emerge.”
Especially in the past year, with the development of a strategic plan and other efforts to ensure the Cathedral’s long-term sustainability, Lloyd has spoken with special vigor about new possibilities at the Cathedral. The following passages touch on his belief in the importance of the Cathedral’s historic building, its mission to Americans of every faith, and the Cathedral’s calling to promote healing and renewal for the world.
A Building that Inspires
One of the essential missions and sacred roles of cathedrals for the world around them has been the work of remembering. To remember, writes former dean Michael Mayne of Westminster Abbey, is to re-member: to pull the fragments of our selves back from the mists of time and to weave them together again, to bring them into the light and connect them one to another.
The Cathedral is a repository of memory. And one of the thrills of stepping through the West End doors into the nave is the sense that we are entering a grand hall of memories—a vessel for the signs and symbols of our most significant moments. The Cathedral’s extraordinary building and grounds carry our identities, reminding us of who we are and giving us strength for the challenges we face.
What a treasure we have in this place to remember, and what a responsibility to preserve it for generations to come.
A Place for Remembering (Cathedral Voice, May/June 2011)
A Cathedral for All Americans
All three of the great Abrahamic religions have a strong strain of exclusivity. “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone, and you shall have no other gods before me.” That’s the first of the 10 commandments in the faith of Israel. “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet,” the faith of Islam steadily asserts. When these great assertions are used to challenge the idolatries people fall into when they are seduced by the gods of their culture, such as wealth and success, they are powerful claims. But when they are turned into a denial of other faiths they become troubling.
If we say that the dangers of our time come from Americans worshiping at the altar of the stock market, or the owning of larger and larger homes, or going into debt to have more things, then we Christians need to hear Jesus say, no, those aren’t the way to eternal life, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” But if we use that same affirmation to declare that only Christians will enter God’s many-roomed mansion, we have lost its real meaning.
Who is saved and who isn’t, who’s in and who’s out? I remember puzzling over that as I made my way back into the Christian faith as a graduate student. Only later did I encounter St. Augustine’s sobering words: “God has many whom the church does not have, and the church has many whom God does not have.” What became clear to me then was that God is bigger than our formulas, more mysterious than all our ways of drawing the line.
The test of any person’s faith or any faith tradition is this: Does it make your world bigger, more generous, more embracing of God’s world, or does it make your world smaller, tighter, more like you?
Could it be that Jesus is bigger than Christianity? “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places,” Jesus said. “I go to prepare a place for you.” ‘How do we get there?’ Thomas asks. ‘By following my way,’ Jesus answers. ‘What way is that? Thomas asks.
‘Love,’ Jesus says. ‘Just love.’
“A Big Enough House,” May 22, 2011
A World-Renewing Community
Today we celebrate Pentecost, one of the high feasts of the church year … the beginning of a movement called the Church to spread God’s healing Spirit across the world. A massive, chaotic crowd had gathered for the Jewish festival days from every corner of their world.
The disciples had been waiting in Jerusalem for nearly two months since their Lord’s death and resurrection, laying low out of fear, and wondering where their lives were going. When all of a sudden this timid and frightened group was filled with confidence and clarity, and they began to speak in the languages of the crowds.
Often people have assumed that the miracle of Pentecost was that the disciples, filled with emotion, ran out speaking in incomprehensible tongues, but it’s just the opposite. This was a miracle of communication, of communion, of understanding. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, wants us to see that the torn-apartness of our world was now being healed.
This is a time when we sorely need this Spirit of communion and understanding. Our nation is facing many problems and challenges but it seems to be crippled by a spirit of torn-apartness. Partisanship, incivility, and narrow self-interest threaten to undermine the well-being and decency of our nation, even our world.
“There is a movement, not easily discernible, at the heart of things,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote, “to reverse the awful centrifugal forces of alienation, brokenness, division, hostility, and disharmony. God has set in motion a centripetal process, a moving toward the center, toward unity, harmony, goodness, peace, and justice, a process that removes barriers.” That is the work the Spirit is doing.
And today as we make new Christians, and reaffirm our own baptismal vows, we are agreeing to allow this Spirit to move in us, to heal the torn-apartness in our own hearts, and in our relationships, and to stir us up to be part of healing our fragmented world.
“The Spirit of Understanding,” Pentecost, June 12, 2011