Tonight we begin”Cathedral Nite.” I have never experienced it before, but have seen its outcomes. People are taught scripture, tradition and thought. There is a massive meal, worship and conversation. The Eucharist begins the night and a choral compline ends it. In between, the community gathers to figure out what it means to be a Christian. Jesus calls us to fill our lamps with oil as a metaphor for the filling of our minds and hearts with scripture and understanding. On Sunday, when I mentioned the event in the announcements I reminded the congregation that Sunday is when our lamps are lit but Wednesday is when we fill them with oil.
One of the reasons I can to Saint Johns is that it was one of the remaining churches which take study, reading and theological conversation seriously. That so many people gather for study and conversation about the Christian walk gives me hope for the church, or at least for the pockets which remain faithful to church being more than simply a life-accessory. Our sacred texts ask us to fill our lamps with oil so that we are ready for the coming of the Messiah and this worship and study night, with its hundreds of people involved, is a central expression of our doing that good work of study and formation.
That the church has this library, one of my favorite places to sit and study, means that we take reading seriously. It reminds me that Jesus came to be among us as “the Word” and not as “the idea.”
Study takes hard work. It requires time and needs to be scheduled into busy days. And that is hard to do. But I have tried to light a lamp which has no oil.