This morning I had the privilege of installing the Rev. Philip Hart DeVaul as Rector of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Costa Mesa. My chaplain Holly Graham, a member of St. Gregory's in Long Beach was with me, taking care of my gear and helping to get me ready for the service.
Once I was dressed, I turned to the young acolyte next to me and asked her,
"How high am I on the cuteness scale today?" She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. Okay, I wasn't particularly feeling the love at that particular moment! There I was, standing there in my alb, chasuble, cope and miter, holding my crozier. Then she looked at me and asked, "What are you supposed to be?"
"The Bishop!" was my reply.
What are you supposed to be -- that was such a profound question.
My robes, hat and stick did not trigger who I was for this young lady. It made me start to think -- the outward and visible signs of who we say we are during a church service is not sufficient to truly convey what (or who) we are supposed to be.
Wearing a clerical collar can draw people to us or cause them to run from us. The out trappings of our work can be a help or a hinderance for us. When people meet me and I'm in my "civies" and they find out what I do -- I am sometimes shunned or have to hear why they don't believe in God and why they hate the church. Others can't wait to ask me questions. Maybe you've had that experience as well.
What are we supposed to be? We are supposed to be loving followers of Jesus Christ, drawing the world to him. We are supposed to go out into the world, proclaiming the gospel by what we do and how we live our lives -- and occasionally by personal witness.
What are we supposed to be? Hmmm. I wonder what this young lady will say the next time I see her -- and more, I wonder if I will have a better answer to her question -- What are you supposed to be?
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