More seriously, the image of the Toomer’s Oaks at Toomer’s Corner – Auburn University, came to mind. These oaks were poisoned shortly after the Iron Bowl in 2010. In 2011 many who had become hopeless about the death of the trees began to once again be hopeful, as the trees began to produce a great number of acorns. They saw this as a sign of vitality and life.
However, arborists (dendrologists?) pointed out that the production of copious acorns was actually the trees’ last ditch attempt to produce children before dying – not a sign of vitality at all.
Like Toomer’s oaks, the Episcopal Church is both dying and desperately trying to be creative. The more desperately creative it becomes, the more one can be certain that it is dying. But, the issue is not that the Book of Common Prayer is old, outdated, or irrelevant; we will not be saved by “fresh expressions” in our liturgy. The issue, rather, is that our Church no longer draws its source of life and evangelism from Jesus Christ. To use the imagery from this Sunday’s Gospel text: we have not been abiding in the vine, and so we are beginning to wither. That is not a statement about our progressive stance on any singular issue, but rather our relationship to culture versus our relationship to Jesus.
|—||The Rev. Remington Chase, “On Deck Chairs, Oak Trees, and the Death of the Episcopal Church”|