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St. James By the Sea Episcopal Church

Place

St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

743 Prospect Street, San Diego




Membership: 1200 individuals.

Pastor: Randal Gardner (Rector)

Age: 57

Born: Denver, Colorado

Formation: Seattle Pacific University; Church Divinity School of the Pacific-Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

Years Ordained: 25

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Randal Gardner: It varies from 6 to 10 hours, to 30 to 40 years. There are occasions on which I speak out of a lifelong reflection of something, and the crafting of that kind of sermon can be very easy or very difficult. Sometimes there’s too much to fit into a single Sunday, but sometimes it’s as if the idea has been fermenting for a long time when I pull that together. On most occasions I start ruminating on the sermon the Sunday afternoon after I preach the one before.

SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a homily that completely flopped?

RG: I have preached sermons where it was clear I was wrong, and I recognized that later on. I remember offering a rebuttal at the end of the service to the sermon I preached. We said prayers together, and in the prayer it was brought to mind that I was working on something that wasn’t accurate, and so before the final blessing, I stepped into the congregation and said I have to tell you what I preached before just wasn’t right. I don’t remember what it was — it was so many years ago. I recall, though, that I told everyone the relationship or identity of God was more my own business than what ought to have been preached…. So to correct myself I tried to reframe a little bit of an idea based on what came to me during the prayers.

SDR: What is your main worry as a member of the clergy?

RG: The big thing — and I think it’s on the radar across the board for an awful lot of people — is how can I be a faithful guide and leader at a time when it seems God might be moving the body of the faithful out of institutional church organizations into something that isn’t quite designed yet. You are aware of and tracked the demographics of the mainline denominations, and you’ve seen how dramatically the numbers have fallen off since the ’60s. What’s the leadership role in this?

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

RG: Something endures, I believe, whether it endures in a physical form as scripture suggests, or as a contribution of some little intelligence to the universe or whether there’s memory, I’m not really sure. I’m pretty faithful to preach what scripture teaches, but as far as how that is actually going to be manifest for us, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t really care. Whatever it is, I’m confident that God is good, and if it’s to be nothing, so be it…. One of the best metaphors for articulating what I think is from C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Hell is a state of continuing refusal toward God, which one can leave at any time. In his telling of the story, the torment is more from the consequence of continuing disconnection from the brightness and reality and graciousness of God. One gets stuck in one’s own narcissism or selfishness or fear or dread or some kind of addictive pattern of refusal, and that is the hell.

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Place

St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

743 Prospect Street, San Diego




Membership: 1200 individuals.

Pastor: Randal Gardner (Rector)

Age: 57

Born: Denver, Colorado

Formation: Seattle Pacific University; Church Divinity School of the Pacific-Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

Years Ordained: 25

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Randal Gardner: It varies from 6 to 10 hours, to 30 to 40 years. There are occasions on which I speak out of a lifelong reflection of something, and the crafting of that kind of sermon can be very easy or very difficult. Sometimes there’s too much to fit into a single Sunday, but sometimes it’s as if the idea has been fermenting for a long time when I pull that together. On most occasions I start ruminating on the sermon the Sunday afternoon after I preach the one before.

SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a homily that completely flopped?

RG: I have preached sermons where it was clear I was wrong, and I recognized that later on. I remember offering a rebuttal at the end of the service to the sermon I preached. We said prayers together, and in the prayer it was brought to mind that I was working on something that wasn’t accurate, and so before the final blessing, I stepped into the congregation and said I have to tell you what I preached before just wasn’t right. I don’t remember what it was — it was so many years ago. I recall, though, that I told everyone the relationship or identity of God was more my own business than what ought to have been preached…. So to correct myself I tried to reframe a little bit of an idea based on what came to me during the prayers.

SDR: What is your main worry as a member of the clergy?

RG: The big thing — and I think it’s on the radar across the board for an awful lot of people — is how can I be a faithful guide and leader at a time when it seems God might be moving the body of the faithful out of institutional church organizations into something that isn’t quite designed yet. You are aware of and tracked the demographics of the mainline denominations, and you’ve seen how dramatically the numbers have fallen off since the ’60s. What’s the leadership role in this?

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

RG: Something endures, I believe, whether it endures in a physical form as scripture suggests, or as a contribution of some little intelligence to the universe or whether there’s memory, I’m not really sure. I’m pretty faithful to preach what scripture teaches, but as far as how that is actually going to be manifest for us, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t really care. Whatever it is, I’m confident that God is good, and if it’s to be nothing, so be it…. One of the best metaphors for articulating what I think is from C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Hell is a state of continuing refusal toward God, which one can leave at any time. In his telling of the story, the torment is more from the consequence of continuing disconnection from the brightness and reality and graciousness of God. One gets stuck in one’s own narcissism or selfishness or fear or dread or some kind of addictive pattern of refusal, and that is the hell.

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Comments
1

Randal Gardner is incorrect about this: "Hell is a state of continuing refusal toward God, which one can leave at any time."

There is a good discussion of C.S. Lewis and the notion of purgatory here: http://afcmin.org/merelewis/?p=19

In particular, however, we have "Lewis rejected what he called the "Romish" view of Purgatory- that one could be saved there. For Lewis, no one who is in Purgatory is lost." Thus according to Lewis, those that are in Hell are in Hell for good.

And we have this line from Gardner,"The big thing — and I think it’s on the radar across the board for an awful lot of people — is how can I be a faithful guide and leader at a time when it seems God might be moving the body of the faithful out of institutional church organizations into something that isn’t quite designed yet."

The arrogance of leadership in Episcopalianism is astounding. For example, attendance at Mr. Gardner's church has fallen by almost half in the past several years. Yet Mr. Gardner insists that their way is God's way and doesn't represent a major turning away (apostasy) and it is this apostasy that is causing the drastic decline. Anyone but the arrogant Episcopalian leadership would stop to question maybe the course they have chosen is the wrong path.

July 29, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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