Wes Frensdorff, the one-time bishop of Nevada (now deceased) wrote a piece called “The Dream.”* He imagines a church that has recovered its New Testament charism and passion, a church that celebrates the ministries of all the baptized, a church “so salty and so yeasty that it really would be missed if it were not around.” At the heart of his dream is “a church without the answers, but asking the right questions; holding law and grace, freedom and authority, faith and works together in tension, by the Holy Spirit, pointing to the glorious mystery who is God. So deeply rooted in gospel and tradition that, like a living tree, it can swing in the wind and continually surprise us with new blossoms.”
I am quite taken by this image. First of all, it is rooted in Scripture. It reminds us of our calling as the people of God. “Happy,” says the Psalmist, “are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on his law day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; everything they do shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).
Secondly, it is grounded in the spirit and ethos of Anglicanism. We welcome questions and opportunities for dialogue in matters of faith. We embrace commonality and difference. We continually pursue the truth that sets us free. We open ourselves to the Spirit of God speaking whatever he hears, and declaring to us “the things that are to come” (John 16:13).
Thirdly, it is inspired by the signs of new life we see in the springtime. Up from the ground, green shoots are popping. The trees are budding and bursting with new foliage. The scent of blossoms fills the air. The image prompts a few questions. What new expressions of ministry are popping up? How are we watering and tending them? What’s budding? What’s blossoming? What new fragrance fills the world with the promises of Christ?
“A church so deeply rooted in gospel and tradition that, like a living tree, it can swing in the wind and continually surprise us with new blossoms.” That was Wes’s dream. May it be ours, too.
* The complete text of “The Dream” by Wes Frensdorff is available online at http://bit.ly/1WJhT1V.