With apologies to the Beetles:
"Well it was 40 years ago today,
Sargent Pepper taught the band to play,
They've been going in and out of style,
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile..."
Forty years ago today, June 10, 1967, along with nine other folk, I was ordained deacon at the Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey. Just seven days earlier Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in the US.
In the course of just a few weeks our class graduated from the Episcopal Theological School, we were ordained deacons, Kathryn and I went for outgoing missionary training in Canada and we were off to Puerto Rico to serve there. By the end of June we were working in a slum in San Juan. We took the album with us to Puerto Rico. And the war raged on and was coming home to the streets of America.
Now, forty years later, on the same day I am off to New Jersey again for an Executive Council meeting, held in the Diocese of Newark and by the end of the month I will again be in Puerto Rico with nine young people and five adults from St. Peter's Lewes. And the war rages on. It goes round and round:
Maybe Sargent Pepper did indeed teach the band to play, and in or out of style we have been playing ever since.
Back when I was first ordained I would occasionally be at meetings where someone celebrated forty or fifty years as a deacon or priest. I sure thought they were old! Now I am one of those old farts!
Well, it goes round and round, and I am always thankful that new surprises shape each year and ministry. Here I am at sixty-seven and I am privileged to be doing youth ministry, an odd sort of ministry of writing in the blogsphere, serving on the staff of a fine parish, serving on Executive Council, still engaged in global mission, and standing on the line in the Silent Vigil with others agaist the horrors of war, and Kathryn is still companion in all of this.
Looking forward and looking backward at all the possibilities and actualities of life in this creaky ol' ship called The Episcopal Church I can say it is all "guaranteed to raise a smile."
And, after that, tears of joy.
Time to go to Church.