I received the kind invitation from Bishop James Stanton in Dallas at St Matthew’s Cathedral to give the 2013 James Stanton lectures Friday and Saturday. I always well up with gratitude, as many of you know, to be invited to be among those in the Anglican Communion. I consider The Book of Common Prayer, which after the Bible forms the worship and spiritual formation of Anglicans, to be one of God’s great gifts to the church. Because of a life lived hearing those great prayers originally written up by Thomas Cranmer, the Episcopalians (I shall use this term along with Anglican interchangeably here, not because I don’t know there are indeed some nuances) have learned how to pray well.
It was an honor to spend time with the good bishop in his library of well-chosen books (something I noticed immediately, and I was delighted to see so many Bible commentaries) chatting about all things Episcopalian. I am convinced God is doing a good work in the diocese of Dallas and when combined with good folks like David Roseberry at Christ Church Plano, part of the Anglican Church of North America, one can say that there is a bit of a revival going on Texas when it comes to plugging back into the Great Tradition of the church.
My topics were the new perspective on the gospel and the new perspective on grace, though I did not focus so much on the “new perspective” even it was gently pervasive throughout. Many of you know my thinking on gospel, now in print in The King Jesus Gospel, and we had good interactions with the themes I presented. There is a growing consensus that the simplistic gospel of the former generation is no longer serving the gospel well and therefore a desire to dig deeper into Scripture to become more faithful in our gospeling. The questions came at me from a variety of angles but the theme was clear: “How do we gospel better?” My brief answer is “Tell people about Jesus” and provoke the question “Who do you think Jesus was?”
The second topic, on grace shaped by God’s love for us, comes from my next book on the apostle Paul’s understanding of the Christian life and spiritual formation so I will not detail my points here except to say this: grace is reduced when we think of a good warm summer rain or a nice cup of coffee; we do it a disservice when we think it means no more than “there but for the grace of God go I.” Grace tells the story of transformation of sinners into saints… and I’ll stop there.
These two lectures will be available on video and audio and the link at the top will get you there.
So many new people and conversations with folks like Bishop Paul Lambert, but I was thrilled to hear that youth pastors in the Dallas Diocese are using One.Life with high school students. That book expresses my heart for teaching young adults the vision of Jesus.
I want to thank especially Deacon Pam Dunbar who coordinated so much of this trip in such splendid fashion, and Canon Victoria R. T. Heard about multi-cultural ministries (she’s very sharp on how this works itself out in local contexts), and Bret Williams for taking expert care of the sound system, and Fr. Brendan Kimbrough for organizing our Saturday morning breakfast at the Lumen hotel across the street from Southern Methodist.