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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Sunday, January 5, 2014
As is my custom, I stood at the front door and greeted people. Some I knew from St. Gregory's. Others I remember from when I came and spoke with a group at St. Theodore's a few years ago. Sisters, oblates and associates of the Sisters of the Transfiguration were also gathering here this morning. What a blessing!
The service of the Word started: hymns were sung, readings were heard, prayers were said, the peace was exchanged.. The service of the Table was said, and communion was distributed. That's when it happened. Now, I have been ordained for almost 16 years, and this was a first for me. As I gave a person there for his first time the bread of communion, I said to him, "The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven." His response? "Yes, I know that it is."
Not amen, not alleluia, not thank you or thanks you very much. I have heard all of those before. Rather, "Yes, I know that it is." He said it in such a way that made me know, deep down inside, that he truly did understand exactly what he was receiving. I sensed such a deep, abiding faith in him. It was as if he was saying: "Ma'am, I understand that God is truly in this -- God is truly among us."
May this eve of the Epiphany, when God in Man is made Manifest, fill your heart with truly knowing so that you can say every day in your heart, "Yes, I know God is in this".
What a wonderful, Spirit-filled visitation today at St. Theodore's! I wonder what great pearls of wisdom I'll hear the next time I'm there!