Here is what The Rev. Craig Townsend, Vicar of St. James' Church in Manhattan, writes about The Stone Boat, a new summer series of writing inspired by the Bible on the church website/blog:
...why are we calling this space a stone boat? The image is drawn from the legendary arrival of Saint James in Spain -- by stone boat -- after his execution in Jerusalem. However you respond to the mythology, the stone boat -- like so many elements of our experience of faith and grace -- confronts us with an idea of something that shouldn't work but does, something that defies reason but is nonetheless real. As we read Scripture, ancient words that have somehow survived the ages to touch our own lives, and as we allow ourselves to be changed by the stories and lessons of our Christian faith, we become seasoned mariners of that strange sea: pointing out for each other the constellations that guided us, the currents that moved us, the shoals we came up against, and the promise of that "wind from God" that carried us into something new.
I love this. How this eases my agony---for my relationship with the Bible has been nothing if not agonizing, and torturous, and frustrating interspersed with grateful moments of honesty, beauty and ecstacy. Have you ever had that? When I started to go to church I was terrified by my own ignorance. For two years, reading the Bible literally made me sick. I quite avoided it. I don't know why. Perhaps (I now wonder) it was because I had walked into faith, and faith overwhelmed me. I had entered the tremendous beauty that is Christianity. I had entered the sea that is centuries of human wonder, mystery, art, music and writing----and it blew my mind. It was so unsettling. (Is this really real? And what about those dark spaces of not-knowing that are all around me?) But luckily everyone was generous, willing and patient, and I liked the music and childcare so I kept coming back. You see it was an unbelievable discovery of a new world----full of light, color, compassion, joy and sorrow. A world that had existed on earth all along, right here, four blocks away and right before me and everywhere. It was incomprehensible.
It still freaks me out sometimes. All these people---so many people---over thousands of years who have set out, each in their own way, on the strange sea. And over the centuries these people keep honoring heaven on earth. And millions bow in prayer each day, raise their voices in joy, hold hands in sadness and for strength, recite words, and open their hands to receive a wafer and wine. It's so amazing that we do this when we could fine and happy as corporate lawyers, hockey players or dog-walkers, and call it a day.