Archive for Eucharist

Divine Human Touch

Posted in Homilies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by timtrue

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Matthew 17:1-9

What do you fear?

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world.

Does anyone remember my fist sermon here?  I entitled it, “Making Peace with Ghosts”; and it was all about dealing with a fear I had as a boy of an imagined visitor that lived under my spiral staircase, the Seven-foot Man.  As a boy, I, along with my older brother Andy and especially my neighbor Donny, possessed a great fear of the Seven-foot Man.  We had to learn, as boys, to deal with it.

As I grew from boyhood into manhood, the clothes fear wore became increasingly less fantastic and more realistic.  Questions went from, “What if there’s a zombie living in my basement?” to, “Will I get into the right college?” “What if she doesn’t like me?” and, “How are we going to pay for diapers and baby food?”

More into adulthood now, the fears have increased in scope, becoming more outward in focus: “Why is there such hatred in the world?” “How much more abuse and mismanagement of resources can the earth take?” and, “What if there’s a global nuclear holocaust?”

What are your fears?

Is “Big Brother” watching you?  Are you in jeopardy of financial ruin, or feeling forever enslaved to that harsh taskmaster otherwise known as credit card debt?  Are—or (depending on how you look at it) were—your fundamental human rights of dignity and democracy in danger of being compromised?

What is it you fear?

Today’s Gospel rounds out Jesus’ epiphany. Here, along with Peter, James, and John, we see Jesus in his full glory; that though he is fully human he is somehow, gloriously, also fully God.

Now, that would be something to fear, don’t you think?

Imagine.  You’re walking up a mountain path, following your leader and trail guide, who suddenly is transfigured.  His face is shining like the sun.  His clothes become dazzlingly white.  Two ghost-like figures appear next to him.  And to top it all off a booming voice sounds from the clouds overhead!

These words that tell the story of Jesus’ transfiguration are familiar to most of us.  But a danger here is that their power can get lost in their familiarity.

So, let’s change the scenario up a bit.

Let’s say we meet in the church parking lot one Saturday morning.  Our plan is to hike up Telegraph Pass.  So, since I know the way, it is agreed that I will lead you.

An overcast day, sometime later we pass that last bend in the road near the top, and find ourselves entering and soon enveloped by a cloud.  Then, at the top now—we know we’re there because through the fog we can see the registry box and the bench next to it—all at once you see me with shining white clothes, so bright they even seem to shine through the mist.  And you think, “Man, I’m sure he wasn’t wearing that when we set out!”

And then my face lights up too, illuminating the registry box, the bench next to it, an ocotillo plant, the road, the two other people there with us, even your very arms and legs.  And—whoa!—now there are two more people—Where did they come from?—who by all accounts look just like Thomas Cranmer and Queen Elizabeth—the first!

And then—ah, music to my ears—that voice from above, booming through the clouds, declares to you all, “This is your pastor; listen to him!”

And you think, “Wow, my heart’s beating fast and I’m sweating like crazy and I’m out of breath.  Surely, I must be hallucinating.  This is it!  I’m done for!  Call out the SAR bird!”

Anyway, point being, wouldn’t you be afraid?  At least a little?  For your own health and sanity if for no other reason?

The disciples are so afraid, the Bible says, that they fall down, “overcome by fear” (“sore afraid” in the KJV), with their faces to the ground.

Yet Jesus reaches out and—don’t fail to notice this detail—touches them; and says, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world.  Yet Jesus touches his disciples and tells them, Do not be afraid.

*****

Jesus could have been like Moses.

Along with the Transfiguration narrative in Matthew today, we also heard a passage from Exodus.  In it, Moses went up on a mountain; the mountain was covered by a cloud; the people from below could see illumination on the top of the mountain, where Moses was; and we all know that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face shone with such radiance that he kept it covered with a veil.

This Exodus passage is a clear parallel to Jesus’ Transfiguration.  Which led me, in my preparation for this sermon, to read up on Moses, the larger context; and to compare and contrast this story of Moses with Jesus.

There are numerous similarities:

  • Both Moses and Jesus go up on mountains.
  • Both have companions with them.
  • Both are enshrouded by a cloud.
  • Both hear God’s voice.
  • Both are described as radiant in one form or another.
  • And, in both accounts, other people hear God’s voice and are afraid.

But there is a key difference between the two accounts.

And here, in this key difference, Jesus could have been like Moses.

But he wasn’t.

And I’m glad he wasn’t.

And because he wasn’t, this key difference is what stands out above all for me from today’s passages, our take-home lesson.

So then, what is it?  What is this key difference between Moses and Jesus?

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw that the people were afraid—well, let me just read the account:

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin” (Exodus 20:18-20).

Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and sees all the Israelites cowering in fear before the might and glory of God and he says, “Do not be afraid.”

Fine and well.

But he doesn’t stop there.  No, Moses has to seize the moment, to capitalize on the opportunity; and thus goes on to say, in effect:

But, well, yes, since you are afraid, it’s for good reason!  God is testing you.  In fact, this is the reason God has come: to put fear in you “so that you do not sin.”

Now, Jesus could have been like Moses.  Jesus could have done this too.

But he isn’t.  And he doesn’t.

And I’m glad for that.

Instead, when his disciples see fearsome, wonderful, and awesome visions and hear the very voice of God, Jesus reaches out and touches them; and says, simply, “Do not be afraid.”

No lecture.  No admonition.  No teaching moment.  Just words of comfort and human touch.

What, then, is the key difference between Moses’ transfiguration and Jesus’?  One offers chastisement; the other, positive reinforcement through human touch.

Which approach do you respond to better?

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world: “Big Brother”; financial ruin; the collapse of democracy; ISIS; terrorism; our own sin.  Why would I ever want to add to all of this an irrational fear of God?

In Jesus, God touches us gently, reassuringly, and humanly.

*****

So, from our starting point of Jesus’ Transfiguration, we looked back to Moses and have learned a valuable lesson. Now I want to look forward, to us, the church, today.

What is it we are doing here?

In ancient times—both in the time of Moses and in the time of Jesus—mountaintops were considered a kind of liminal space, a threshold of sorts, between earth and heaven.  They were seen this way topographically—a mountain peak is physically higher than any other place around it—as well as figuratively—places to encounter God.

Moses encountered God on top of Mount Sinai.  Jesus was transfigured on top of a mountain.

We see this concept in other traditions too: the Greek and Roman pantheon dwelled on high, above the peaks of Mount Olympus; and the Delphic Oracle was delivered high on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.

In fact, even in our own day we refer to personal divine encounters as “mountaintop experiences.”

Mountain peaks were understood to be liminal spaces.

Today, here is our liminal space: church.  Here we come, setting aside for a time our cares, concerns, and preoccupations in the world; to meet God.

Now, take it a step further.  In a few minutes we’ll have opportunity to commune together.  Well, what happens when I stand up at the altar and lead us through the Eucharistic Prayer?  Somehow, mysteriously, the bread and wine become Jesus’ own body and blood.

And then, best of all, when we partake here at this liminal space, just like on that Day of Transfiguration when Jesus reached out and touched Peter, James, and John; so Jesus touches us.

God touches humanity in Jesus; God touches us in the bread and wine.

He picks us up from our knees, puts his arm around us, leads us back to our pews, prays with us, and, last of all, best of all, he blesses us and says, “Alleluia, alleluia.  Go in peace, without fear, back into the world, to love and serve the Lord.”

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On Being Christmas-and-Easter Warriors

Posted in Doing Church, Homilies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2017 by timtrue

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Matthew 4:12-23

Before we get into today’s Gospel, let’s gain our liturgical bearings. Where are we in the liturgical year?

Think of a pie graph.  Starting at the top, we have a purple section, Advent, which lasts between four and five weeks.  Next is white for a few weeks, Christmas, up to the Epiphany.

Then for some weeks we find ourselves here, in a green section of the year, the season after the Epiphany, or as my Roman Catholic friends call it, “ordinary time.”

Ordinary.  Ho-hum.  Not much of a ring to it, eh?

This year’s season after Epiphany is eight weeks.  Then we go to purple again for the season of Lent, for five Sundays.

We then have a narrow sliver of red on Palm Sunday; followed by seven Sundays of white—for Easter the resurrection, and the Ascension; another narrow sliver of red for Pentecost, and one more of white on Trinity Sunday.

And now we’re only halfway around our pie graph.

Do you know what color the rest of this graph is?  For the remaining 26 Sundays this year—with only two exceptions (Transfiguration and Christ the King Sundays, both white)—it is all green.

Yeah, green time.  Ordinary time.  Ho-hum time.

Which brings up a concern for me.

My concern is that as a church we love Christmas and Easter.  We focus our liturgical calendar around the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.  And well we should!

But do we focus too much on Christmas and Easter—to the exclusion of all the other times in the year—that green section after Christmas; that long spell after Pentecost; all that ordinary, ho-hum time?

Christmas and Easter aren’t enough to sustain us through our ordinary, ho-hum times.

I remember my freshman year of high school.  My parents had recently divorced; I wasn’t in a very good place.  But it was an El Niño year, meaning lots of snow was coming to the Sierras.  Maybe Dad understood I wasn’t in a very good place, I don’t know.  But he knew my brother and I loved to snow ski.  And so that year we planned three three- or four-day trips to Mammoth Lakes, as well as some a one-day trips to the local soCal mountains—Mountain High, Mount Waterman, and Mount Baldy—promising at least one ski trip a month through the winter.

Well, I remember how much I looked forward to those trips in the months, weeks, and days leading up to them.  I also remember how much I relished the recent memory of those trips after returning home from them.

But what I remember most keenly was the dread I felt when I got out of bed each morning realizing that I had to plod through another day of the prison sentence I called high school.

That year, my freshman year, I tried to live for my skiing adventures, with the resolve that the anticipation and memory of them would sustain me until the next one.

But they were few and far between compared to the everyday, ordinary, ho-hum experience of high school, my daily grind.

That year, the only moments I lived in were when I was skiing, escaping from the daily grind.  While enduring the daily grind itself, I never lived in the moment, but rather always in the future or the past.

I had become a bona fide weekend warrior.

When we in the church live for Christmas and Easter, we risk not living in the moment of the ordinary, ho-hum times that, frankly, comprise most of our corporate life together.  We instead become bona fide Christmas-and-Easter warriors.

Now we’re ready to turn to today’s Gospel.

In it, Jesus begins his ministry by calling four disciples: Simon Peter; his brother Andrew; and two other brothers, James and John, the sons of a certain Zebedee.  All four of these men were fishermen.  And, because Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” we usually focus on the evangelism theme here: we, too, need to fish for people.

But I want to look at another theme, having to do with—you guessed it—the ordinary, ho-hum life Jesus called these men to live.

So, track with me.  These men, all four of them fishermen, were living a comfortable life.  They were settled, doing what they knew how to do, continuing the vocation their fathers had passed on to them.  So routine were their lives that they knew what to do without thinking.

They knew the sea—where to find the most fish, when the best times of the day were to find fish, what seasons of the year were better or worse for a kind of fish they’d like to catch, and so on.  When boat repairs were needed, they knew what to do.  If a boat sprung a leak while out on the surface of the sea, how to get to shore (or whether they could make it to shore) was almost an afterthought.  Their vocation was second-nature.

Moreover, we can surmise—along with biblical scholars—that these men had fairly lucrative businesses.  Fish were in demand as a food throughout the region.  People paid relatively high prices for them.  And, as with many established routines, overhead costs were low.  These men enjoyed high productivity and low overhead, a recipe for a comfortable life.

One more consideration: these men more than likely were married with families.  In fact, we know that Simon Peter was married: Jesus cures Peter’s mother in-law in Matthew 8.

Point is, Jesus called these four men to follow him; and following Jesus for them meant sacrificing a lot!  Comfort.  Stability.  Established homes.  Financial security.  Predictability.  Routine.  Plans.  Nest eggs.  Family.

What does it mean for us to follow Jesus?  Those who manipulate the good news of the Bible for their own ends—who make a gospel out of prosperity or family values—would do well to consider today’s Gospel!  So would we, as in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church—which we’ll get to shortly!

Now, sure, Peter, Andrew, James, and John had heard of Jesus by the time he came calling.  He was probably something like a celebrity by now, a household name.

Do we all know the name of our presiding bishop, Michael Curry?  So, imagine if he sought you out personally and said, “Jane, John, Insert-Your-Name-Here, I have a job for you.  Come with me now, and see.”

Well, yeah, there’s a certain amount of adventure and excitement around this.  At least initially.

But today’s Gospel doesn’t end there: with the celebrity Jesus coming to these four men and saying, “Follow me on the adventure ahead, and I will make you fish for people.”  In today’s reading, there’s another verse.  Jesus and his new followers then set out traveling, teaching, preaching, and healing.

These four men followed Jesus, sure.  But they weren’t following him into a kind of weekend-warrior life of adventure.  They followed him into a kind of ho-hum, ordinary life.  And they left their established, comfortable lives to do so.

These apostles weren’t Christmas-and-Easter warriors—by any stretch of the imagination!  The feast of the Epiphany and the Last Supper could not have sustained these men for the three years ahead of them—and not just for the three years with Jesus but for the lifetime beyond that, for they all went on to build the church of Jesus Christ.

So, we’ve looked at the liturgical calendar; and we’ve looked at the Gospel. Now it’s time to do some harder work: to look at us, St. Paul’s.  Loosen your collars: it might get a little warm in here.

I’m concerned that we are a church of Christmas-and-Easter warriors: that we think these principal feasts are enough to sustain us through all the ordinary, ho-hum times of the year.

On page 15, the BCP says there are seven Principal Feasts in the liturgical year, which all point (at least loosely) to Christmas or Easter: Easter Day; Ascension Day; The Day of Pentecost; Trinity Sunday; All Saints’ Day; Christmas Day; and the Epiphany.

The word “feasts” suggests that we should break bread together, which is another way to say celebrate Communion together, on these seven days.

But when I got here, we weren’t doing this: we weren’t coming together for all these feasts—which is one indication that maybe, over a long time of doing church together, we have become Christmas-and-Easter warriors.

In addition to these seven Principal Feasts, on p. 16 of the BCP, we read, “All Sundays of the year are feasts of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

All Sundays are feasts.  Thus, we should celebrate Communion together on all Sundays of the year.

Which is why our Constitution and Canons make it clear that, unless we are unable to obtain a supply priest, we should celebrate Communion on any given Sunday.  Otherwise we demonstrate a lack of respect for the Eucharist.

Now—to turn up the heat a little more—our operating budget for 2017 is just north of $200K.  To date, pledges for 2017 are south of $140K—about $70K shy of our operating expenses.  In an ideal world, our operating expenses and pledges would be equal.  But they’re not.  Leaving the vestry with some difficult challenges and questions.

Their chief question of late has been where to cut costs.

It’s a question faced by a lot of organizations.  Public schools, for instance.  Long has it been a complaint among my friends and family members that the first budget corners to be cut in education are in the arts.

So, here’s my main concern.  As a way of cutting costs for the year, the vestry has proposed allotting only $1000 for supply clergy in this year’s budget.

Now, I anticipate being away for seven Sundays this year—a normal amount.  Father Paul is not here anymore; we can’t ask him.  Which means we need to fund supply clergy; or go without the Eucharist on the Sundays when we cannot obtain a supply priest.

With travel, accommodations, and a supply fee, it costs St. Paul’s approximately $500 per week of supply.  In other words, the budget should be at $3500 ($500 x 7 Sundays) for supply clergy, not $1000.  $1000 covers only two Sundays.

What will we do for the other five?

We could have a Morning Prayer service, yes.  But, unless we cannot obtain a supply priest—and supply priests are available!—we should celebrate the Feast.

So, anyway, that’s the what part of my concern.

The why part, however, concerns me even more.  Why would we cut corners here?  Sundays are feast days.  It’s when we gather as a corporate community.  And gathering for Communion—the Eucharist—is our chief corporate act of worship: not singing; not preaching; not praying; but Communion.

As your rector I’ve been called to be the spiritual leader of this community.  I don’t want us to be Christmas-and-Easter warriors.  That attitude will never sustain us spiritually.

Thus, I leave you with a few questions to contemplate in this week leading up to our annual meeting:

  • Have we become Christmas-and-Easter warriors?
  • Like the apostles, is St. Paul’s ready to follow Jesus wherever he calls?
  • Where have we become too comfortable in the way we do church? In our routines?  In our spiritual disciplines?
  • Where and how do we need to change? Along these lines, when we say we want to change, do we actually mean that we want to return to the way it was twenty years ago?  Are we really desiring to move forward?
  • Is our present way of doing church sustainable? The budget suggests that the answer to this question is no.  So, where do we need to cut corners?  Really?
  • Is cutting supply clergy costs a sufficient excuse to neglect the Sacrament?
  • Do we respect the Sacraments as we should?

Dramatic Life-moment

Posted in Doing Church with tags , on December 16, 2013 by timtrue
The Communion of the Apostles

The Communion of the Apostles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I am following up on my last post, “The Drama of the Call.”  For the nonagenarian friend, the parishioner whose leg was amputated–well, she died on Saturday morning.

Now I’m not a medical professional.  In fact, I’m totally ignorant about most things requiring medical attention.  “Make it up as you go” has always been my medical m. o.  So, for instance, when I stuck my finger in a squirrel-cage fan as a boy and came running home with blood splattered everywhere, a little Neosporin and a butterfly bandage sufficed.  And, amazingly, it healed fairly well, no stitches needed, thank you very much.  And I’ve got the scar to prove it!  Point is, my medical ignorance–and improvisation–has proven blissful again and again; and so I’ve had enough positive reinforcement in my life to continue shunning medical experts and making it up as I go.  I remain medically ignorant.  I question no one’s medical judgment.  Still, was amputating a ninety-three year-old’s leg really necessary for a blood clot?  She didn’t recover from the surgery apparently, for she died three days later.

In that last post I said I would take her communion on Sunday.  Sadly, she died on Saturday.  But happily and providentially I ended up taking her communion on Friday.

It happened like this.  By noon Friday I was at a good breaking point from the week’s activities.  So my mind turned to visitations.  I would go and see her now, I decided, especially since doing so would free up my Sunday afternoon to spend with my own family.  Utilitarian, I know, but it is what it is.  So I called the assisted living home where she should have been.  But the nurse on the line said, no, my friend hadn’t been re-admitted.  I then called the hospital where the surgery had been performed, only to hear that she had been discharged yesterday, i. e., Thursday.  A little annoyed, I grabbed my communion kit and Prayer Book and headed for said retirement home hoping for the best.

My hunch proved correct.  My aged friend was in her room, eyes opening and closing slowly, almost lazily, barely cognizant.  There with her sat her daughter, her eyes puffy.

“So good to see you, Father Tim,” the daughter said, rising from her seat to greet me.

“I’ve brought communion,” I smiled.

“Wonderful!” she smiled back.

Without further conversation, I opened my Prayer Book and led the three of us through a brief service.  I partook of the bread and wine then gave the elements to the daughter saying the familiar phrases, “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven”; and “The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.”  I then turned to her mother.

“I have some bread and wine for you,” I said.

Her eyes, now closed, stayed closed.

“Tim,” the daughter offered, “I’ve seen another priest dip his finger in the wine and touch her tongue with it.”

Brilliant idea, I thought, for there’s no need to take the elements in both kinds, as our theology states; meaning only bread or only wine is sufficiently sacramental.  And I acted upon it.

As my fingertip touched her tongue, I realized how dried up it was.  It felt something like the corner of a small stack of paper, fifty sheets or so thick.  She’d been breathing through her mouth for days, since the sedation for the surgery probably.  At any rate, she visibly responded to the drop of wine on her tongue.  It must have brought physical relief along with spiritual.

As I departed, the daughter walked me to the door of the room.  “We’re not sure how much longer she’s got,” she related tearfully.

“I understand.  Call us when you need anything.”

Her mother died something like twelve hours later.

Today funeral plans are being made.  “Can Father Tim do the funeral,” the four siblings asked?  “It means a lot to us that he was there in her last hours of life.”

And so, yes, I will be officiating at a funeral on Friday.  And though I barely knew her, it’s going to be difficult not to cry.

She was ninety-three.  It seems normal to expect that she would have passed on any given day.  But following such a severe surgery, an amputation!  Somehow this makes her passing seem not normal–makes it frustrating.  And in my frustration I want to shed tears with and for the family.  It’s part of the liminality, I suppose.

But the Episcopal funeral service is about resurrection–both Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of all believers in the last day.  So I am reminded that beyond this dramatic life-moment my nonagenarian friend is being restored to new life, to full life, to life without blood clots, to life with complete limbs, to life without doctors, where the m. o. is “make it up as you go.”

Priested!

Posted in Doing Church with tags , , , on July 11, 2013 by timtrue

So much happening so fast these days!  I haven’t had a chance to post anything recently.  So here’s something anyway, to keep the ball rolling at least.  It’s somewhat reactive: reacting to monumental life events as I’m in the middle of them.  Look for a post at the end of the month for a more reflective take on these events of July, 2013.

So, on Saturday last I spent the day with my dad and stepmom who flew in from L.A. for the occasion of my ordination to the priesthood.  They wanted to spend time with the grandkids, naturally, so they all went off for a few hours to take in a couple of movies: one set went to see Despicable Me 2 and Lone Ranger the other.  Which was just as well, because my former seminary dean was to arrive any minute having also flown in from California for the occasion, to be the preacher.

All ran like clockwork.  Dean arrived, I got him settled, and we returned to the house in time to rendezvous with the others for dinner in the Pearl Brewery district, a presently-being-refurbished part of San Antonio that is well worth exploring if you ever get the chance.  Our first choice for dinner was La Gloria, about which I’ve heard excellent things.  But the wait for our party of nine was an hour and a half, too long for our hunger and anyway for the youngest member who was already up past his normal bedtime by now.  No worries though.  For in the Pearl all one has to do is walk a block or less to find another eatery, which we did, Il Sogno, which had an outside table for nine ready to go presently.  Turned out to be one of the best dining experiences in a long time for all of us, 2.5 hours of sitting around a table over a meal and some of the most delightful fellowship imaginable.  Go if ever you can.  The antipasti sampler is highly recommended.  But plan on $25+ entrees and $40+ bottles of wine.

Sunday morning was spent fairly typically, in church.  The difference about this day was that the normal 6pm service would be transformed into my ordination service.  Normally maybe sixty parishioners make the evening mass.  It meets in the rather large nave, but a small wooden altar is rolled out front.  People sit only in the first several pews.  There is no music.  The sermon is relatively brief and conversational.  It’s done and over in forty minutes.  But tonight meant the full choir and organ, a congregation of two hundred including several visiting clergy, an hour-and-a-half service at least, and a reception following with sandwiches and wine or fruit punch for those who preferred it.  It was a spread.  And it was all for me.  Indeed, no one can say that the Episcopal Church doesn’t honor its clergy!

I tried to connect beforehand with everyone participating: the deacon to read the Gospel, the cantor, the choir and organist, the readers, presenters, chalice bearers, Bishop, preacher, Bishop’s chaplain, acolytes, even the verger.  I don’t know if I succeeded, but I knew it didn’t really matter.  The service would happen anyway.  Then at last all seemed ready.  Those processing gathered in the narthex for a prayer.  The amen was said and the bell tolled.

“You look like a bride,” a woman whispered to me as I stood in line.  I couldn’t help but smile.  On the surface it was a funny thing to say.  For I have a beard and was dressed in an alb, not a gown, without any part of me manicured or pedicured or otherwise made up: I looked nothing whatever like a bride.  Yet her words were entirely appropriate, for the service, what with all the preparations and accoutrements, felt much like a wedding.  Only this time around, I mused, I wasn’t a nervous wreck like when I actually was the bridegroom in my own wedding.  Twenty years will do that I guess.  But, too, there was such a clear sense of the Holy Spirit through it all.  That had to account for something.

Throughout the evening I had no nerves whatever.  Even when I signed a declaration stating my belief in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God!  Even when my oldest daughter showed up fifteen minutes into the service, surprising me smartly since I thought she was a thousand miles away!  Even when my son climbed into my lap in only the squirrelly way he can, right as the preacher turned his address at me personally!  Even when the Bishop and the gathered clergy consecrated me, laying their hands on me as a tangible expression and reminder of the weight of the Holy Spirit now upon me!  Even when I handed each parishioner a wafer and said, “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven”!  Even when I pronounced my first blessing!  Through it all the Holy Spirit was present and known.

But that woman’s statement about me looking like a bride was appropriate in another way.  For here, in my ordination, is one of the sacramental rites practiced by the Episcopal Church; just as is matrimony.

The dean stayed through Monday, giving him and me a good time to catch up with each other, a rich time I’ll cherish for many years to come.  And now it’s Wednesday night.  Tomorrow morning I will celebrate my first Eucharist.  Sunday ahead promises three more celebrations.  Maybe then I can get back to this blog.