Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Such a joyous time....

A week ago, on Shrove Tuesday no less, Nathan Ives was ordained a priest in God's church by Bishop Laura Aherns at Emmanuel Church in Killingworth.

Nathan has been working as a deacon in the three church cluster I serve and now will take over one of the other two presbyter roles, rotating around with Bryan Spinks and me.

I don't know how many ordinations I've attended (not as many as some priests who see attendance as 'showing the colors'...I just go to the ordinations of people I really care about) but Nathan's was one of the best!

Laura was great--relaxed and humorous--which set the tone for the whole thing.

John Burton was the preacher. I normally drift off during ordination sermons (unless I'm preaching!) but John's was really good. Years ago, when John was new, he came to Waterbury and helped a group of volunteers build a huge labyrinth in St. John's Close. He was a good leader and shunned using any measuring instrument besides string he had cut to map the contours. I was amazed at that, at first thinking a tape measure wouldn't be a bad idea! But in the end, John's way was the best way.

Anyway, John and Nathan may be the only two priests in CT that own sheep. So the 'good shepherd' gospel from John's gospel was the reading. John did a funny but accurate comparison between being a shepherd (warts and all) and a priest (warts and all). It was totally unsentimental, which is what makes me drift away during ordination sermons--the sentimentality of it all.

Priesthood is, it seems to me, one of the last callings that requires 'being' more than 'doing'. And 'being' is simply that--just being who you are in whatever comes up. John's sermon illustrated that.

A good crowd on a snow covered evening. And a good party afterwards.

Folks in the Cluster know how to celebrate--whether liturgically or gastronomically!

(I once told Michael Spencer, in my ordination sermon for him, to never forget that he was 'an almost irrelevant functionary of a nearly irrelevant institution'. And I meant it though it made the bishop who ordained him furious with me. Christendom is over--the Church isn't the norm for society and hasn't been for decades (we're always the last to know!)--it is time to truly lean into and 'be' on the edges of things...like people's hearts and longings and love and doubts. I think Nathan will fit in well with that job description....)

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.