Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keep the Incense

At our recent Diocesan Convention, we were taking our part in discussions related to the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.  TREC is working on adapting the structures, governance, and administration of the Episcopal Church to better reflect the mission challenges of today and the future.  The question before us was something to the effect of what we should keep and what we should let go of.  We were doing our best and saying the usual about Scripture, Tradition, Reason and being inclusive.  All right as far as it goes, but somehow, fairly predictable.

Then someone at the table said, "Keep the incense."  We all laughed from the heart and it felt like we had struck something deeper than the earnest things we had been offering.

My impression of the use of incense in worship in the Episcopal Church is that it has moved from being used all the time in a few places, to being used a few times in (not quite) all places, and the frequency of use is growing.  At the Cathedral of Saint Paul, we are now using it (in a non fussy way, of course) on most Sundays.  There are all kinds of reasons and all kinds of witness around that incense and other traditional forms of ritual are being welcomed, especially by younger people.  "Keep the incense."  We wrote the comment down. Wonder if it will make it into the report and proposals?