Living Stones – A Second Hundred Years

It is likely that over the course of our celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of St. Paul you have seen, or will see, the eloquent words of the Very Reverend Samuel Marquis, the first dean of the Cathedral. He speaks powerfully about the Cathedral in ways that are physical and symbolic. He concludes by saying that it is a reminder to us that we “do not live by bread alone (Matt 4:4).

When Marquis wrote his words a century ago this city and the churches of it were burgeoning. Today both face the challenges of what new life might be. As we embark on a second century of ministry as a cathedral, for our diocese, region, city, neighborhood and people, I, like many others, continue to be transformed by the physical and symbolic elements of this great structure. But reflecting prayerfully on the beauty and majesty of these stones (and glass, wood, tile, tapestry and more), I know that our second century will be, must be, focused on the living stones of humanity and mission.

We are being called to become the “living stones” spoken of in the First Letter of Peter (1 Peter 2:5). We are to be built into a spiritual house: a priesthood of all believers to offer a spiritual place, life, witness (sacrifices). 1 Peter reminds us that we are God’s people, chosen, in order to proclaim the mighty acts of the One who brought us from darkness into light. Our mission is share that life-giving reconciling love with others.

Now, and for the duration of our centennial year, you will find actual stones in vessels around the Cathedral. They are pieces of limestone, the stone of which the cathedral is built. They have been prayed over and we have asked God’s blessing upon them. We invite you, we ask you, to take one. Our hope is that it will be a tangible reminder that we are not to be stacks of cold rock, no matter how beautifully stacked on one another, but that we are to be the living stones of this cathedral. If you are from another congregation, we invite you to take one as well – for our desire is that you and your community of faith will be built of living stones as well. (And perhaps that you would be moved to hold us and God’s mission and ministry for this place in your prayers from time to time.)

The eternal presence of God, reflected in the Cathedral stone, and the eternal love of God, reflected in lives of Living Stones, will be what transforms what is lost and broken into that which is again alive and whole.

Yours ever in Christ,
Scott+ May 17, 2011

Ralph Adams Cram’s thoughts on the Dedication of the Cathedral, March 1911

Ralph Adams Cram’s thoughts on the Dedication of the Cathedral, March 1911
March 30, 1911

Dear Dr. Marquis,
I am in receipt of your letter of March 27, and note that the formal opening of the cathedral will be on Wednesday, May 17. You may be very sure I shall come out at that time. If possible, I mean also to bring Mrs. Cram with me.

As for the lectern………….

You flatter me when you ask my advice as to the dedication ceremonies. I will think this over and report later. In the meantime, the only clear ideas I have are, first that the great dedication service should be a celebration of the Holy Communion, with the priest, deacon and sub-deacon, no one receiving except those in the choir. Second: that after the people have been assembled in the church, the doors should be locked, the dean and the architects and a few attendants being within. Then the great procession should be formed in the parish house; Bishop, choir, diocesan clergy, visiting clergy lay officials, etc. and this procession should come out by the south door of the parish house, pass west along Hancock Avenue, and when the cross reaches the west doors, the ranks should open permitting the Bishop with his attendants to pass between and up to the same doors, where the Bishop of the Diocese, whereupon the west door are thrown open and the procession enters, this time with the Bishop and his attendants in front.

Certainly a solemn Te Deum should be sung, and I should suppose that the time for this would be before the Communion service. Probably it would be best for the procession, with the Bishop leading, to go directly upon entrance up into the chancel, where all the diocesan authorities with the Bishop in the center would group themselves around and facing the altar and the Te Deum would then be sung, this is followed immediately by the Communion service and sermon.

It is a good practice for the representative of the architects to hand over the keys to the dean, who in turn hands them to the Bishop. This might be the very first thing that would take place after the procession had entered and taken it’s position in the choir and sanctuary. Better still, why should not the procession from the west door be formed as follows?

Cross Bearer
The Dean
The Cathedral Chapter
The Representative of the architects,

Behind would follow the Bishop at the head of the great procession. Arrived at the entrance to the choir the dean and the representatives of the architects would take position on either side of the choir steps. The Chapter would open out on either side, the Bishop would come forward, when the architect would deliver the keys to the dean, the dean would hand them to the Bishop and then the Bishop would lead into the choir, the dean behind him, the architect fading off into some inconspicuous corner, his work having been accomplished.

Here are some suggestions and I may be inspired to send others. By the way, should not the proper psalms be sung or said as the procession goes up the aisle? This I think, would be better than a hymn, though at some place int eh service se mush have “The Churches One Foundation”.

There are, I know definite rules and regulations for the conversation that take place through the door between the Bishop and the dean, but just what is said I am not sure. You ought to be able to find out from some Bishop who has has occasion to take posession of his cathedral under similar circumstances.

Very truly yours,

Ralph Adams Cram

P.S.

Just for the dignity and beauty of the procession outside and inside the cathedral you must get some banners. If you have one connected with the cathedral parish, cannot you acquire some for the occasion from other churches in the diocese?

The Sesquicentennial Hymn

When mighty forests cast their shade,
and stood in endless view,
From Canada the Gospel came,
in Pollard’s frail canoe.

Our fathers knew God’s wondrous works,
His love and firm decrees,
They praised within the wildnerness,
beside these inland seas.

That early church so frail of old,
was nurtured by their prayers;
And here across the widening years,
we join our praise to theirs.

Thy faithful hand O God has led,
Thy children on their way.
In this perplexing world be still,
Our wisdom strength and stay.

Now cleave our darkness with they flame.
Lord, send Thy living word,
That we may speak anew today,
The truth our fathers heard.

O grant Thy people gathered here,
Both fervent hearts and prayers,
That we may spread Thy truth abroad,
And give it to our heirs.

Praise to the Father and to the Son,
Praise to the Holy Ghost.
Praise God ye generations here,
Praise Him angelic Host.

Amen,Amen.

Words by the Right Reverend Richard S. Emrich, Seventh bishop of the Diocese of Michigan

Bad Day … Good Day? — Good Day … Bad Day?

It had been my intention to reflect a bit on the recent wedding of William and Catherine. In light of the news from Pakistan late Sunday night the wedding reflection can wait for another week. SSH+


Bad Day … Good Day?
Good Day … Bad Day?

I am not sure I have ever heard the news “shout” the way I heard it upon my awaking on Monday morning. I was reminded of the cry from the people of Munchkinland in the Wizard of Oz movie that “the wicked witch is dead.” (L. Frank Baum’s book reads differently.) I do not mean that in any sort of caricature-ish way. The Munchkins were jubilant over the news that they had been liberated from tyranny, cruelty, and even evil. Many people, who suffered loss on September 11 and at other times, have expressed similar feelings with the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Theirs is a grief that is, ultimately, beyond words.

Our President made a difficult decision. No guarantees. If the mission had ended up in two Blackhawks down, Navy SEALs dead, and no sign of bin Laden, he would have been excoriated. I admire that he chose the most direct and surgical of all the options – it mandated direct contact and specific identification. There is no doubt in my mind that these SEALs entered the fray and put themselves at risk seeking a greater safety for all. Their valor is undeniable.

Still … from Monday on I find myself struggling. Our President, on Sunday night said, “Justice has been done.” An act of war was done. An act of proportional response was done – hostile fire met with hostile fire in defense of self and others. Can the action be justified? That argument can be made. Was it justice? No. A sign of our broken humanity? Yes.

If we are bold enough to call ourselves Christian, we must be honest enough to struggle with the truth that violence raised up against violence, be it a fist fight, a firefight, a rumble, a coup, a rebellion or a war, means that humanity has failed to be what God asks and intends us to be.

Is the world safer tonight? No doubt for some it is. Has a Commandment been broken? Yes, and for that we are all in need of repentance. The two realities coexist: neither any less real, any less true.

My struggle, and perhaps yours, is not new. It is akin to the soul-level struggle of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Lutheran theologian, scholar and martyr who returned to Germany from a Harvard appointment to resist Hitler) as he contemplated whether a Christian could rightly kill another human being (Hitler) to prevent greater loss of life. The struggle remains.

Many commenting on this event have quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, from Strength to Love, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He is right, of course, and others are wise to quote him. Let me leave you with a different quote, from Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Faithfully,
Scott+

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 (part of the Gospel appointed for Wednesday in Easter 2)