This morning I received a note from the Episcopal Church master of Joy, Louie Crew, the title of which is, "A Pedicure to Celebrate Your Ordination!" Well, Jesus washes our feet, but Louie trims the toenails. He wrote, "I rejoice in the anniversary of your ordination. May this next year be the most fulfilling of your priesthood."
Forty-two years. All have been fulfilling, but I know what Louie means, and what I have experienced. Fulfillment is a present tense sort of thing. If this year is not the most fulfilling, then I would be at a loss, for the fullness of life is now or not at all. So, forty two years, but who counts?
I was ordained priest in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, by Bishop Francisco Reus-Froylan. It was a tri-lingual service - English, Spanish and French. The choir consisted mostly of the Haitian students at El Seminario del Caribe, the preacher was Professor Ivan Kaufmann and the service, with the exception of the ordination itself, was in Spanish. Bishop Reus said we'd do the ordination in English just to make sure I understood what I was getting into. That was good pastoral insight.
These days I am priest in several contexts: as assistant at St. Peter's Church, Lewes, and member of the clergy here in the Diocese of Delaware; as a priest member of Executive Council and its several committees; and as a blogger on a variety of concerns about the future of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Kind of a three point charge, to use a Methodist idea.
Of the three I am most sure of the first - at St. Peter's I work with young people, preach, do the odd teaching bit, hang out on Sundays and other community times. Much of this is church under church - the doing of simple matters within the body of Christ known at its most immediate.
Work on Executive Council is a wonderful privilege, but a mixed one. It is very very easy to simply become part of the ongoing machinery of governance without ever questioning the model itself. That is true of any organization. To seriously get under and behind church as it exists on that level is a real challenge. The way down and into the body on this level is twofold: (i) to do some of the simple things of a small community anywhere - share Eucharist and reflect on the Word (the word written down, yes, but more, the Word that informs our reading; and (ii) to have visions, dream dreams, and find ways to bring them into the workings of the machine.
It is in the blogsphere that I find some outlet for visionary (or at least somewhat open-eyed engagement with larger issues.) When I started my writing my heroes were Hunter S. Thompson and William Stringfellow. Stringfellow died before the Internet came in. I am not sure what he would have thought of it. Thompson was already hooked into whatever the alternative media possibilities are for writers.
As time goes on (I've been blogging for four years now) I and mostly delighted by the new voices that have come round. Today I peeked in on "Leave it where Jesus flang it," a blog by Margaret (Its Margaret). I visit others of course, but this one made me realize that I write from a pre-blog and Internet position and she, one way or another, is emergent.
Read this from Margaret:
"Elected on 'the economy' and backlash to the Democratic sweep of a year ago -these right-wing Palinesque nut jobs have taken less than a month to begin to enact their hateful, spiteful, idiotic and damaging social agenda.
What to say? What to think? What to do? This is scary shit. These kinds of agendas emanating from the highest offices of the Commonwealth are terrifying, and will support an environment where hate crimes and blatant discrimination will thrive.
I mean, just last week, one of the right-wing nut jobs in government --an elected official, issued a statement saying that retardation and disabilities were increasing because so many women had aborted their first born, and first born were for the 'Lord' and so God was punishing these women with disabled children. He said this within the context of stopping funding to Planned Parenthood.
What does one do in these circumstances? Fighting the good fight makes the vulnerable even more vulnerable. Packing your bags and leaving in disgust leaves the most vulnerable alone."
This is great stuff! Read the whole thing HERE.
The thing is, I have exactly the same feeling in the midst of trying to rise above the really awful stuff in Anglican-land, particularly from the "nut-jobs."
Maybe I am a bit emergent, even if I write badly and about dead horses. So I try not to leave the field.
But of the three points in my charge, it is this last that makes for vulnerable living, real growth spiritually, and maybe, just maybe a place for the fulfillment of priesthood.
Well, I feel immensely blessed by all this and just a tad on a roll. I hope Bishop Reus will look kindly on this, his ob'jnt servant, who understood and took those vows seriously.