This past Sunday during the Children's Moment, I briefly discussed the upcoming Celebration of New Ministry (tomorrow at 7 p.m.) and compared it to a wedding. As with most Children's Moments, it was all too brief, so I want to revisit that comparison here.
With regards to marriage, the BCP has this to say: The union of two people in heart, body and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity . . . marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently [and] deliberately.
In discussing marriage, the Rev. Tobias S. Haller, an Episcopal priest and member of the Brotherhood of St. Gregory, writes: “Marriage is about permanence and fidelity, suitably imaged by unending rings, and mapped to things as diverse as religious profession by a nun and the union between Christ and his Body, the church.”
In wanting to explain the Celebration of New Ministry to the kids without getting too complicated, it seemed to me that a wedding ceremony was something they could all basically understand. And with the words of Fr. Haller echoing in my head, I thought it a good idea to elaborate on that image.
What happens at a wedding? In short, two people who have met, gotten to know each other over a period of time, and who have fallen in love, have agreed to come together and form a union in heart, body, and mind. They agree to support each other in prosperity and adversity. And they exchange gifts symbolizing that union and promising to work for the betterment of the relationship. They do not give up who they are, but they take on a new form that changes and adds to their being.
Almost exactly 13 months ago to the day I sent an e-mail to the Rev. Cn. Stuart Wright saying, essentially, that I found the profile of what looked to be a great place and I would be interested in being part of their search process. That's Episcopal church-speak for, “Hey, do you think you could introduce me to them?” Over the course of the next several months we got to know each other better. That period of learning was done reverently and deliberately. It was during those meetings and visits that I found myself falling in love with St. John's. And at some point we both realized that this particular union of priest and people would be good for our collective hearts, bodies and minds. The question was asked. The answer was given. And we were on our way to coming together as one; not giving up who we were, but taking on a new form that would change and add to our essence.
Tomorrow our relationship together is formalized in a wedding that is officially called A Celebration of New Ministry. We will sanction our union together as priest and people. We will promise to uphold each other, to help and comfort each, and to be with each other in prosperity and adversity. We will exchange gifts suitable for the occasion. And we will celebrate. We will celebrate tomorrow night after the service. We will continue to celebrate on Sunday.
As with all weddings, there is an air of excitement here that I hope never fades. I can't say exactly what our future holds; but to borrow from Timbuk 3, “Our future's so bright, we gotta wear shades.”