I expect many of you were exactly where I was when the investiture of +Katharine began to be broadcast this morning [10:00 Central time]. I was sitting at my laptop, praying my DSL connection would be adequate. I had a fresh cup of coffee in one hand, my service leaflet in the other. And – of course – I also had a cat on my lap.
I give thanks to Episcopal News Service for making the service leaflets downloadable in advance and – even more – for making the Webcast available. The service leaflet is available by clicking here
. You can view the entire investiture service from the National Cathedral site; just click here.
[But the National Cathedral file is not as good as the ENS webcast today. I understand that ENS will make the service available on DVD, and I certainly will buy a copy.] I was very pleased to be able to follow-along in the service leaflet throughout the service.
Let me begin with these technical notes, and major kudos to Episcopal News Service. When I logged-onto to the Episcopal Church website this morning, I had very low expectations of the ENS webcast. I figured it would be fraught with technical problems. I expected to get thrown-off the site periodically due to bandwidth limitations. I expected a low quality of audio and video. But, oh my! ENS sure proved me wrong! Not only was the connection stable and the audio/video very high-quality. But the work the ENS "producers" [is that the right term?] did to select angles, switch between cameras, and get me up close and personal were just amazing.
Now let me try to comment on the liturgy itself.
I was very pleased that they followed a fairly-straightforward Rite II BCP service. Too many of our adversaries attack us for departing from the Book of Common Prayer. And, frankly, I am just not impressed by many of those experimental liturgies. I was pleased to see this one stick with the BCP liturgy – in which we know the cadences and responses. It is the liturgy most parishioners are familiar with, and I was grateful to see it used.
I was also delighted – to my surprise – by the additions like the liturgical dance, the lovely ritual whereby the dancers poured water into the baptismal font, and the varied, multi-cultural music. To me, this was the best of Episcopal liturgy: all our formal, rich liturgy, but with a few well-conceived innovations interspersed. From time to time during the service, I thought this was Episcopal liturgy at its best: with all the ritual and high seriousness, but also moments of delightful surprise.
When the webcast gave me my first glimpse of +Katharine in her vestments, I nearly lost my breath – they were so beautiful! I loved how the vestments employed ocean colors, waves, and the entire cosmos – so appropriate to +Katharine's career before her ordination, and such powerful symbols of the vocation we all have to participate in: the redemption of all creation. I honor the designer(s) and creators of those beautiful vestments.
For reasons I do not understand, one of the most powerful moments for me was when +KJS beat on the Cathedral door as part of the traditional liturgy for the investiture of a new Presiding Bishop. I was in the National Cathedral nine years ago, when we installed ++Griswold. And I remember how those three so-hard knocks reverberated around the acoustics of the Cathedral. "Let me in! Let me in! Let me in!" And it was even more powerful today, with +Katharine standing outside National Cathedral, slamming her crozier against those cathedral doors. And, mind you, with 4,000 people inside the Cathedral just longing to let her in! Obviously, my feeble words are not going to do justice to the moment. We need a poet to do it for us.
Throughout the service, I enjoyed seeing how +Katharine herself seemed to be so relaxed and enjoying the whole thing. Her intensity, her moments of humor, her seriousness, her spontaneity and humility. They all gave me confidence that this is a Presiding Bishop who may lead us in new and deeper directions in the next nine years. Yes, you will recall that I was furious with her railroading B033 through the House of Deputies during General Convention. But today, I am willing to lay that aside and let her start fresh.
One other perception was very strong today as I watched +Katharine's investiture. I was struck that this is the first investiture that had a worldwide, real-time audience. Many of you know that I had planned to be present in that service; I was one of the lucky few who had a ticket to the investiture, but I had to give it up. I thought watching the service via the Web would be a sad experience. But it was not. To the contrary, as I sat at my solitary laptop, I was moved by the sense that I was connected in an important way to many hundred – or even thousands – of other people who were, in those two hours, participating in the "church invisible." I was "virtually" connected to a huge community of faithful, joyful Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout the world. I give thanks that our church made it possible for me to share in that experience with so many other Christians.