Monday, December 24, 2007

My Friday Night

I'm mindful that tonight is Christmas Eve. I attended our 5:00 "family service," and I intend shortly to go to the Festival Eucharist at 11:00. But I'm betwixt and between, wanting to blog, and with quite a backlog of things I want to post. So I'm posting this one, which I wrote Friday night. I expect I'll do some more catch-up tonight and tomorrow.

I hope I can offer an update. A couple of friends took photographs, but so far I haven't been able to retrieve those photos for uploading. So the photos here are stock ones from our cathedral.

Ordinations at the Cathedral

For a couple or three years, a member of our parish has been in the discernment process. For longer than that, people in our parish and diocese had been asking him, "Why don't you become a priest??" Marshall was one of those folks for whom it is true that sometimes one doesn't just hear God's call, but one is called out by the community. Friday night, he took the first step, as he was ordained to the transitional diaconate at our cathedral.

As soon as I learned that he was to be ordained on December 21, I planned to be at his ordination. But then another marvelous thing happened: The Cathedral staff asked me to serve as subdeacon in this service, in which Marshall and three others would be ordained to the transitional diaconate. Of course I said "YES!" as soon as I was asked.

We made Marshall a deacon Friday night at the Cathedral.

And part of me would wish to write about what that meant for him. But I cannot write for him. I cannot guess what thoughts were flowing through his mind and spirit.

So please forgive me for talking, instead, about my participation in that liturgy.

It was my honor and privilege to be asked to serve as subdeacon in the liturgy in which we made Marshall and three others deacons.

I got to the cathedral and was ready for instruction at 5:00. A marvelous man (whom I hadn't met before, except that we had corresponded on the diocesan Oasis listserv) was assigned to run me through my paces, familiarize me with the Cathedral's customary, etc. So we walked through the procession stuff first. Then we focused on my role and responsibilities during the Eucharist and so were up at the high altar by about 5:30 ... when the "rehearsal" began. But I wasn't part of the "rehearsal"; it was simply 60 or so people sitting in the first few rows of the nave being told what the ordinands, presenters, vested clergy, etc. must do. Meanwhile, Todd and I were up at the altar, "practicing" my role as subdeacon. While we did so, various folks were passing by: the archdeacon (with whom I travelled to Lui in southern Sudan last year), the priest who was preaching, various other clergy and ministers ... many of whom I happily greeted with a bear-hug. The same thing happened when we were all lining up in procession: lots of meets and greets of folks whom I really like.

Actually, this was funny for me: I hadn't been prepared to see and hug so many folks from throughout the diocese. Relationships have been built bit by bit and year by year, but 'til Friday night I really didn't realize how many folks I've come to know and with whom I've connected. It was quite the love-fest.

What an awesome, marvelous night it was! The ordination liturgy was just marvelous. Standing at the table with our bishop (Wayne Smith) and his deacon (my friend Susan Naylor) during the Eucharist was a higher-than-high for me! I was comfortable in my subdeacon role, and got much kudos from some of our liturgy-nazis. Apparently, I did ok in my new role.

Some of you may recall that my re-entry to the Episcopal Church, following my "sabbatical from the church" after GC 06 and its odious resolution B033 was via Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis. Trinity is the parish I attend when I am in St. Louis on Sundays, and I love the priest there: the Rev. Anne Kelsey. She was the preacher for this ordination, and her sermon was one of the best I've ever heard. She spoke to all of us, but her challenge and charge and encouragement to the new deacons was just perfect – and of the chill-bump variety. (It's online here. Go listen to it! There's a bit of an electronic buzz in the background, but the sermon is worth it.)

Another highlight of the service was that I had a perfect seat from which to see Marshall take his vows. His seriousness, his humility were awesome to me. In our ordinations, we set people apart for special ministry. As I sat there, watching Marshall go through the examination and take his vows, and finally seeing the bishop place his hands on the candidates, I was powerfully impressed by the change that was happening to him, the mission and ministry he is accepting.

Over the past many months, I've been fairly active in engaging the Big Issues facing the Anglican Communion. But this event brought it all closer to home. Come what may for the worldwide Anglican Communion, we are still carrying on as usual. Deacons and priests are being made. The ancient prayers are being offered. We are sending these people out to minister to the world – to place their hands into our wounded places, and to proclaim the good news of the "yes" that God speaks to us over and over again.


Blogger joan said...

My prayers have been with all who are associated with Marshall's ministry. What an exciting event the ordination must have been!

12/26/2007 6:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Hmmm ... Would this perchance be Joan now in (the other) Portland? If so, I'm delighted to hear from you!

Yes, it was an exciting evening. And an amazing number of folks from Grace made the 2+ hour drive to be there for and with Marshall. And music was from the combined choirs of Grace and Calvary.

I must say: He looks mighty fine in the collar that's been beckoning him for so very long.

12/26/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Tis the same Joan, Lisa. I check in on you from time to time. Marshall and his family have been in my prayers as has the Grace community.

12/29/2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Hooray! We're doing well. The "celebration of new ministry" for our new rector will be January 9. I think things are going very well. Fortunately, we've had some years' experience in change, as you know. ;-)

I hope you're well too. Christmas blessings to you.

12/29/2007 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are well, enjoying the inclusiveness and vitality of St. Michael's as well as all the opportunities a city has to offer. Blessings.

12/31/2007 11:17 AM  

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