How many Episcopalians does it take...?

A small rumination at the end of the day.

You know the question: How many Episcopalians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Well, the answer varies. In an Anglican sort of way, "it depends."

If the light bulb is one of those incandescent bulbs, the answer is, "at least one politically incorrect one."

If the light bulb is one of those energy saving ones, the answer might be, "one to screw it in, one to genuflect, and one to chant, "the Light of Christ."

Or perhaps there is a non answer, "I'm not sure Episcopalians use the word screw."

But if the light bulb is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, like the 40 watt bulb that plays the part of the baby Jesus in the pageant or the light bulb behind the nifty Jesus night light, perhaps the light bulb getting screwed in and turned on is something like the light of Christ in our lives.

In which case, the answer to the question, "How many Episcopalians does it take to screw in a light bulb?" is this: IT TAKES ALL OF US.

So here is the point to all this: I believe the light of Christ is too great, too important, too wonderful to be left in the hands of one person or group or party. We all have see that it is screwed in and the current is flowing.

The light is important to all of us.
This is because the light of Christ shines on and through the Scriptures and light is thrown on their meaning.

It is because the light of Christ shines in our minds and hearts and all our thoughts and experiences become illuminated by that light.

It is because the light of Christ shines in the life and prayers of witnesses in the church and by that light we see God's grace in the Saints and God's truth in our faith.
The light of Christ is too big for any party to handle.

If the light is to get power, everyone has to help.

So there it is: The Episcopal Church needs everyone to help light up the night. All of us.

We are 110 dioceses in the US and a number of other countries. We are high church, low church, broad church, not much church at all. We are evangelical, sacramental, pentecostal, analytical, traditional, experimental, progressive, modern, ancient, post-modern, old, young, men and women, children, and on and on.

The reason we all hang out together is that we have the sense that no matter how well any one of us is at screwing in the bulb and turning on the light, it will take all sorts and conditions of folk in the human family to even begin to do the job right.

And of course, we also know that the light does not depend on our doing the work of screwing in the bulb. (That's why we get along with the Lutherans.) The light is already present, bulb or no bulb. It is just that we want to be part of making that light real in the lives of those who have been with out.

The real reason for being part of something that includes those who are so different from ourselves (however we define that) is that they and we are all part of the one great effort that is also God's desire, that we live in the light.

Anyone who will lend a hand at setting the bulb is invited to do so.


  1. Having several friends who are priests, I find I cannot resist:

    Q: How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: Change? What do you mean, change? My Mother gave that light bulb to the Church.

    Here in the Dio. Of Fort Worth, we are extending the Light to all of the Lord's children. 5:00PM Sunday Nov. 15th will be a JOYOUS celebration as the first woman is ordained in the diocese.

  2. Way to work a metaphor, PoetMark!

  3. Four: one to change the light bulb and three to form a society for the preservation of the old light bulb. But yes, better if we all do it.

  4. Answer: none. The light never goes out. It doesn't need to be replaced.

    Fr. Maxwell Smart+

  5. Mark,

    I've heard it takes ten. One to change the light bulb and none to talk about how the old light bulb was better.

  6. I love this post, thank you!!

  7. I thought it took four: one to change the bulb, two to complain about how much better the old bulb was, and one to mix the martinis.

  8. Twenty. One to change the bulb, nine to organize the procession, and ten to run the coffee hour.

  9. awm c'mon y'all -

    At least 3:
    One to call the electrician
    One to mix the drinks
    One to quit the Church in protest...

  10. What happened to last year's candles for the Midnight service? Can't we use them?

  11. dr.primrose16/11/09 4:35 PM

    From my church camp days:

    Five -- one to change the light bulb and four to mix the martinis.

  12. Oh, Muthah+ yours is the best - made me LOL. Thanks!

  13. "I'm not sure Episcopalians use the word screw"?

    "When news of Robert Runcie's appointment to Lambeth first broke, an old friend from his army days is supposed to have remarked: "How refreshing to have an Archbishop of Canterbury whom you know for a fact says `f**k'."

  14. Three.

    One to call the electrician,
    one to mix cocktails,
    one to complain that the old light bulb was better.

  15. Four

    One to change the old bulb after it has gone out.
    Three to insist that was the true bulb once delivered by the electrician, with two of them leaving in protest.

  16. First someone needs to find out if the lightbulb really wants to change.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.