DeChamplain

The Way of Wisdom: Faculty Voices - Prof. Patrick Malloy

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The Way of Wisdom is a major initiative at The General Theological Seminary to integrate all the disciplines of formation in seminary education. Rather than separating education, formation and experience, The Way of Wisdom requires a complete blending of each. To read more about The Way of Wisdom, including Dean Kurt H. Dunkle's article, "Diving into the Deep End," go to www.gts.edu/wisdom. Each month GTS News is featuring one faculty member's reflection on The Way of Wisdom.

The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy Professor of Liturgics, H. Boone Porter Chair

Psalm 119 is the longest. Section by section it follows the Hebrew alphabet, and each section contains a number of verses beginning with that letter. It is the longest chapter in the Bible: far larger than many of the books. As sprawling as it is, it sings of one thing: the Psalmist’s love of God’s law. We–we Episcopalians–pray through Psalm 119 in sections over the course of seven weeks as we celebrate Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.

The Psalm speaks of the law of the Lord–called by many names in this poem–not as a task master but as a program of life that is, indeed, life. To follow the law of the Lord is to live. To live is the yearning of the human heart.

Our liturgy puts this ecstatic love for God’s vision of human life into our minds and onto our lips over and over across the seven-week cycle of the Divine Office. We cry of our desire for the life that God intends for us. In choosing life, we reject every thought and every deed that would draw us from God’s intention for us, because we instinctively know that to live in harmony with God’s will is alone to live.

The Way of Wisdom is a way of life. It is a way in which the words of our worship, the embodiment of our common prayer (We bow and surrender our stiff-necked impulse.), the strenuous engagement of our minds, the foregoing of even good things, the embrace of the works of charity and justice, the rejoicing in the sure and certain triumph of our Savior over everything that is death-dealing… The Way of Wisdom is all of this. It is a way of life.

What is it to be wise? The liturgy tells us, shows us, and enables us to “try it out.” The wise one embraces the stranger, bends the knee before the presence of the Holy One, senses God-in-Christ made present by the power of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament, bows under the burden and rises up in the liberation of going forth in peace to love and serve the Lord. The liturgy calls all of this forth. It calls forth, too, specific responses known only in the celebrating assembly and in the individual person who celebrates. Such is the Way of Wisdom.

The Way of Wisdom is the way of being Christ’s Body in the world. In the liturgy, we learn in our minds and hearts–and in our mouths and noses and ears and bones–what it is to live a wise life, a life overflowing with life. It is a way which always turns away from the death that, even when it draws us in, is a false god.

The commandments of the Lord are sure.

The Way of Wisdom: Faculty Voices - Prof. Mitties McDonald DeChamplain

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The Way of Wisdom is a major initiative at The General Theological Seminary to integrate all the disciplines of formation in seminary education. Rather than separating education, formation and experience, The Way of Wisdom requires a complete blending of each. To read more about The Way of Wisdom, including Dean Kurt H. Dunkle's article, "Diving into the Deep End," go to www.gts.edu/wisdom. Each month GTS News is featuring one faculty member's reflection on The Way of Wisdom.

 

The Rev. Dr. Mitties McDonald DeChamplain

Trinity Church Professor of Preaching

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is a fount of wisdom and insight for those who proclaim the gospel. All the baptized have promised to “proclaim the Good News of God in Christ by word and example,” with God’s help (BCP, p. 305). All are invited in Baptism to “confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share” with the whole “household of God” in his “eternal priesthood” (BCP, p. 308). These words from the baptismal rite mark the beginning of the way of wisdom for preachers.

In reflecting on the way of wisdom for those called to preach as a part of their vocation, the image of wrestling comes to mind. Seminary is a context for learning to wrestle with language—the language of scripture, liturgy, theology, history, pastoral care, and popular culture. Seminary is hopefully an environment where students are encouraged to discover their true voices as preachers and to use their voices authentically and faithfully. Homiletical method is intended to aid in the process of discovering what to say and how to say it with intelligence, integrity and good will. Being a wise preacher is as much a spiritual discipline as it is an exercise in being dynamic, forceful, powerful and eloquent.

The way of wisdom for preachers is a lifelong commitment to thoroughgoing and painstaking wrestling with scripture and discerning its wisdom with God’s help. Humbly yielding to the mystery of the Passion and steadfastly preaching the truth revealed in scripture and the breaking of bread are each a part of the way of wisdom for preachers. At the end of the day, wise preaching is the practice of both taking control and relinquishing control of one’s voice and body to the crucified and risen Christ at the moment of utterance. It is only by dependency on God’s grace that we are able to proclaim the gospel and truly embody its message of radical grace. Wisdom in preaching is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and those who seek wisdom in preaching are well-advised to cultivate a habit of “informed innocence”—a reverential openness and attentiveness to new insights that may be revealed in the pursuit of a holy preaching life.

Reginald Fuller sums up the way of wisdom for those who preach in his monograph, What is Liturgical Preaching? Preachers are duty bound in their preparation to continuously study the Word as “that Word is expressed in the Liturgy. [They] must…constantly live in the Liturgy…Thus will they learn to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Christ, the Wisdom of God, is the source of all truth.

Blessing of the Animals at General Seminary

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The General Theological Seminary held its annual Blessing of the Animals on September 29 in front of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. After a brief service, the Rev. Mitties DeChamplain blessed neighborhood and seminary animals gathered with their human companions on a beautiful Fall afternoon."Mother Mitties received blessings, too!" she said after the service.

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Seymour Prize for Extemporaneous Preaching - May 8

THE SEYMOUR PRIZE 2012 The Seymour Prize is given in recognition of the best extemporaneous preaching by a seminarian of any class.  This particular competition will be held on Tuesday, May 8, 2011 in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Professors DeChamplain and Good will hear five-minute homilies DELIVERED WITHOUT NOTES, and with 30 minutes preparation time.  Details about preaching order and scripture text will be given to those who express interest.  All will preach from the same text of scripture.

The sign-up sheet will be posted in the Mail Room on April 16th and remain there until May 2.

If you have questions, please contact Mother Mitties at dechamplain@gts.edu

Prof. Mitties DeChamplain on The Holy, Catholic Theater

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The narratives of theater aid in interpreting and reflecting on mystery and truth in human lives and ways of being in the world. So writes GTS Professor of Preaching Mitties DeChamplain in The Holy, Catholic Theater: Exegesis of Life on the Stage, her article for the current issue of the journal Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy. The theater is a holy, "God-haunted" place of transcendence and transformation, she asserts, and is also catholic in its inherent commitment to tell what is true about human existence. Furthermore, the story-telling of the theater offers a "sanctuary" or safe place for human self-discovery, remembering and re-invention. "Perhaps the best way to characterize the holy, catholic theater," she concludes, "is to say that it is, in its truest moments, a place of love." Mother Mitties also ministers as Vicar of St. Clement's Episcopal Church, in which is located the third oldest, continually operating Off Broadway theater in New York City. Sunday Mass is held on the theater's stage, with the altar surrounded by the set of the current production.