Although this may not be the most positive post to make for my "come back," it seems that today is the most appropriate time to make it, because today is the celebration of the Feast of Saint Luke.
It is not that I have changed my position concerning the content of the vows, themselves. They are still very much a part of who I am. I still "Affirm the Apostolic Hope; Live for the Church of Jesus Christ; Magnify the Sacraments; Seek the Sacramental Life; Promote the Corporate Worship of the Church; Accept the call to Service as put forth by the discipline of the Church and (much of) the Practice of the Order; and, by and large Abide by the Rules of the Order and Indicate that Commitment by Study, Service, Gifts and Practice." Except, of course, for those things that are specific to membership in the Order, I hold all of these, still.
The problem that I have wrestled with over the years has been the tolerance for such theological and social liberalness (or whatever term you want to use). It has amazed me, over the years, how many people who are so "conservative" liturgically are so "liberal" theologically, and how many who are so "conservative" theologically are so "liberal" liturgically. (And, yes, I recognize that those labels are ambiguous and not tremendously helpful.) Those are just general observations. It is not to say that all in the OSL fit the former category. Far from it. But there is certainly an openness to those who do.
I have had debates with folks in the cyber-chapter of the OSL a number of times over the years. Those debates were wearisome, and at times even became heated for some in the group. (In at least one case, maybe a couple of cases, I don't recall, it led to person/s being removed, or their removing themselves.) Yet, I stuck with the group, because those issues were not at the heart of what the group was supposed to be about. And, also, because the group was officially tied to the United Methodist Church, and therefore, officially lived under the UMC's social standards.
Those ties are no longer there. And, while the Order is not likely to actually take an official stand on various social issues, much of what held the Order in check, in this regard, (as I see it) has been removed.
I finally came to the place where I simply did not read the posts on the cyber-chapter, because they could become such an emotional drain for me and a distraction. Now, that it is time to make my renewal of vows, I have decided not to do so.
Oh, there is still much value in the Order. I am quite thankful for their publications. I am sure I will continue to purchase interesting books from them. And I am very thankful for the Order providing me an opportunity for a liturgical outlet, for conversations, opportunities for learning, a recognition that I am not "alone," and for an introduction to colleagues who have also walked on the "Canterbury Trail." I thank God for the place that the Order has had in my journey, and for their continued work in worship renewal. And I pray that God will guide them into the future.
Yet, for me, the newly formed/forming Wesleyan-Anglican Society has filled the void of the Order. There are, of course, those who hold dual membership. The Society is not quite the same thing as the Order, and it has not sought to duplicate it. However, in some ways, it does correspond. There is the same deep commitment to liturgical & sacramental worship and living. One difference, however, is that the theological, liturgical, and sacramental emphasis in the Society is more specifically Wesleyan & Anglican, while the Order is much more broad in scope. The Society seeks to remain consistent within the classical Wesleyan (and, thus, orthodox) theological camp. Again, the Order is much more broad. So, in this sense, the Society could be seen as a more conservatively Wesleyan, orthodox alternative to the Order.
The vision of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society is as follows: