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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Proclaim and Show

Photo Credit: Susan Forsburg 

"Say what you mean and live life to mirror what you say -- proclaim and show." 
Bishop Kevin Brown, Delaware

That was the main thrust of the message the bishop gave to the clergy during the Annual Chrism Mass wherein deacons, priests and deacons are invited to renew their ordination vows.

I've participated in this service in five dioceses over the years and they are, for the most part, not as inspirational as intended. Most often, the bishop preaches, which, more often than not, is met with mixed reviews from clergy, depending on the spiritual state of the individual clergy person and their perception of the spiritual status of the bishop. 

I heard Bishop Keven's message as both inspirational and heartfelt - enough to spark the imagination and creativity of this Dinosaur Priest.

So, I made the following modest "What If" proposal: What if we did what you say. What if this liturgy was about all of us "proclaiming and showing" what it means to be an ordained servant minister of the Church?

What if, instead of repeating the words we said when we were ordained, we summarized our ordination vows (that's what the bishop did, actually). And then, what if did something to "show" what we had just "proclaimed"?

What if we washed each other's feet?

I'm serious. What if we did that? Those of you who are purists will immediately say, "But . . . but . . . you CAN'T wash feet on TUESDAY in Holy Week!! That's for THURSDAY."

Look, I'm not saying to have the Maundy Thursday service - although the 'disruptive' nature of that appeals to my sense of the kind of disruption Jesus caused over and over again to the religious proscriptions and expectations of his day and time.

I'm saying let's wash each other's feet as a way of "showing" the vows of servant ministry we just "proclaimed".

Bishop Kevin seemed genuinely intrigued by my question and proposal. He gave it serious thought for more than the usuall few passing seconds. I felt heard, in the very best sense of that word.

It doesn't really matter, you know, if we do it or not. It's really more important that the preacher (the bishop) knows that he waas listened to and heard and that I, in turn, was listened to and heard. It's that seeds were planted for creative use of the teachings of Jesus.

I think that brings as much delight to God as do the fruits of those seeds.

So, in good ancient Rabbinical tradition, I'm making a modern adaptation and asking this question of the social media "mind hive"

Laity, deacons, priests, and bishops: How do you read? What do you think about clergy putting into action the vows that they have reaffirmed?

Oh, and P.S. Here are some "Words of Comfort" for Holy Week:

"Clergy and church workers, here's our yearly reminder: Jesus will rise from the dead even if you forget to print out the right hymns, even if there are typos in the bulletins, even if the lilies arrive wilted, even if the whole choir gets food poisoning. Nothing will keep the stone from being rolled away. You are loved." Nadia Bolz Weber

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