Tending the garden

From the left, dire warnings and calls to ‘resist Trump’. From the right, an overcorrective demand to ‘just calm down’.

The left exaggerates the problem. The right doesn’t grasp the danger.

Christians are called neither to resistance nor to quiescence. Christ taught us not to return evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good (Matt. 5; Rom. 12). Our emphasis isn’t protest or passivism. It’s rightly ordered activism.

Whether in support or opposition, the pillars of our politics should be these: protecting the weak and promoting the common good.

The mission of Christians in the world is like tending a garden. From our inner spiritual lives, to our families and communities, to our nation and world, Christians are called to cultivate good, to do justice and mercy, to promote and practice the flourishing of life.

But tending a garden isn’t easy. It’s dirty, hard, uncomfortable, unceasing work.

In the garden, the sun brings life, but it also scorches. The rain brings life, but it also drowns. For the shrewd gardener, the question is not whether these forces are intrinsically good or evil, but whether they can be harnessed — subdued and directed — so that life can flourish. (Cf. Matt. 5:45.)

In the present cultural moment, the danger on the left is overreacting to the sun and rain. Not every ray of light is fire. Not every drop of water is a flood. These things, in measure, help the garden grow.

The danger on the right is forgetting how fast the weather changes, how quickly nature turns from friend to foe. Without preparation and — yes — resistance, drought and downpour bring death.

Tending a garden means working with nature and working against it — and rightly discerning when each is called for.

This is our call and our challenge now.

Being chancellor, becoming Anglican

When it’s on the internet, it’s official.

In October of this year, I had the honor of being appointed chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of the Rocky Mountains, part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The chancellor is an ecclesiastical office recognized in many denominations. In the Anglican tradition, the chancellor serves as the legal counselor to the Bishop and diocesan organizations in matters affecting the Church.

For years, I’ve been a First Amendment attorney and outside general counsel to churches, ministries, and other nonprofits. Now as chancellor, I’m officially a church lawyer, charged with counseling Bishop Ken Ross and serving other leaders and organizations within the Rocky Mountain Diocese.

rocky-mountain-anglican-leadership

The chancellor is a non-clerical (non-pastoral) official. The historic “Holy Orders” within Anglicanism are Bishop, Presbyter (Priest), and Deacon. As chancellor, I am not ordained to one of these positions. Also, the chancellor position for me is part-time, and I continue to practice law in Colorado Springs with my law firm, where I counsel churches and ministries, advocate for religious freedom, and work for the good of Christians and other religious communities around the world.

Why Anglicanism and the ACNA?

 The Anglican tradition is both ancient and vibrant, a historical and present stream of the “One, Holy, Catholic [worldwide], and Apostolic Church.” The ACNA stands within this stream: it is evangelical, liturgical, and global. The Rocky Mountain Diocese describes its values this way: “Ancient Faith. Global Relationships. Local Mission.” I resonate with all of these.

You can read my thoughts on some of these things at KeepingAdvent.com, a resource my wife and I designed for Christians seeking a more Christ-centered, historically rooted holiday season. I talk about the graceful rhythms of the Church Calendar and the beauty I find in the liturgy, among other topics. In these essays is some explanation for why I’m drawn to an Anglican expression of Christian faith.

The coming year

2017 brings fresh challenges for the church, our country, and the world. Some books I look forward to digging into this next year (not in any particular order):