Thursday, June 12, 2008
Red Cherries, Green Bananas and Bishops
I apologize for the lapse. It's been a whirl.
I deeply appreciate the emails and phone calls of concern.
So much has colluded to steal time. Or, perhaps, redirect it.
I call it the "Parochial Trifecta": Pastoral concerns, The Fishawack Festival on Saturday (look it up, it's a Chatham thing), and the 1,000th Baptism on record at The Episcopal Church of St. Paul on Sunday.
To your right is a picture of the 'town square' of Chatham.
A gazebo and a clock.
A perfectly manicured lawn.
In 2006, the population of Chatham was reportedly close to 19,000 residents. The average household income was reported at $160,000 and the average home sells for between $650,000 and $2.5 million. We also have homes in the $5 - 10 million range.
All these marks of a community which is lovingly referred to as "Mayberry USA" and "Republicanville."
God help me (and God only knows why) it's a community - the people of St. Paul's - I've come to love.
The real miracle is that they've come to love me, too.
The miracle of today - most this amazing day - is that this is the birthday of Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris.
She is the first woman to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Is there a person on the planet who does not know this?
Oh, and by the way . . . she also happens to be an African American woman.
Just in case you didn't know. And, in case it's important to you.
It is to me. I'll tell you why.
The episcopacy of Barbara Harris marked a shift in the cosmos. It sent the message, just in case the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven and the subsequent "regularization" of the ordination of women, that nothing would ever be the same in the Episcopal Church and, therefore, the church Catholic.
And, it hasn't.
Thanks be to God.
At the end of the day - at the end of most this amazing day - I am both bone tired and elated. I am doing what it is I was called to do - ordained to do.
It is some of the hardest work I've ever been privileged to do and I rejoice in it.
It is, in part, because of this woman. Barbara Clementine Harris. A child of God. And, and African American woman. The granddaughter of slaves.
And, by the grace of most this amazing God, a Bishop in the church of God.
She gives me hope. She brings hope to so many others.
I wished her, today, her 78th birthday the following: May you enjoy the alcoholic beverage of your choice, the cigarette of your preferred brand, and lots of absolutely filthy laughs at lots of off color jokes with your most treasured friends.
Hell, she will anyway, without anyone's permission or encouragement.
She laughed that throaty, smoky Katharine Hepburn laugh of hers and said that, at her age, she would guess that a sexual encounter and a glass of ice water would probably do her in - and so she was studiously avoiding both.
I asked her, today, if she had any advice (for, surely, I could use it).
She said, "Honey, at my age, I only have advice for myself which was given to me by the first African American Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts when he was my age: I don't buy green bananas."
For some, life is just a bowl of cherries.
For others, it's a a miraculous ministry near a quaint town green.
For others, it's just wry humor about green bananas.
And now, I'm off to bed. When I awake in the morning, I will rejoice to be able to do this amazing work.
And and the people of God.