August 31, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

I heard a good sermon yesterday based upon Mark 7 in which Jesus doesn’t require his disciples to wash their hands in the ceremonial fashion the Pharisees required. The preacher explained how this was was not the typical washing of hands we try to do before meals. The ritual was complex and expected a total connection with God.

Jesus in dismissing this legal requirement was not opposed to the discipline that religion implied. He just didn’t want his followers making a sham of something intended to connect with God. His teaching was that it is better to do nothing than to be hypocritical. How then can we exercise discipline with God and be faithful?

Our Anglican tradition invites us to consider piety. Piety is religious practice that isn’t required but is freely chosen. Piety might mean accepting the discipline to engage in regular Morning or Evening Prayer. It might call upon us to devote a designated amount of time each day for study. Even the decision to make the sign of the cross as a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made is part of piety. These things are good practices but are not requirements of the Church.

As for myself I am reluctant to add more things as a way of discipline. I have learned the hard way that I need a divine experience to accept rituals. In other words, I tend to stay with things when I know God is calling me into a piety. This happened to me back in the early 1980’s when I resolved to read two chapters of Scripture each day. I have been faithful to this discipline ever since, and it has enriched me. Pray to God and invite him to guide you towards pious practices. Give it your best effort. Piety can change your life! With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,