Big tent, big top, circus tent all came to mind for reasons that may become clear if you consider the messages delivered to various Episcopal congregations over the past two weeks.
First there was Bishop John Spong (ret.), a man who denies rather than simply doubts Jesus' physical appearance to Thomas, preaching at a large Episcopal church in Richmond Virginia on Good Friday.
Then there was Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington burying the Resurrection in layers of doubt in a message to her diocese.
Bishops are the ringmasters when people step into the big tent called the Episcopal church. How many bishops and their priests might we expect to see jumping through hoops if asked to discuss the physical appearance of Jesus to Thomas? How many of us would pay to see the show?
Too many I am afraid.
It is a big tent all right, but the side show freaks and clowns have taken over the center ring.
I can hear the barker now,
"Step right up ladies and gentlemen to see the greatest show on earth that probably never happened."
So from now on, whenever I hear somebody refer to the church as a big tent I will think of it as the Big Top.