Sunday, June 18, 2006

How many priests does it take....

Grace has an abundance of priests. We have a rector, two retired volunteer associate priests who are a married couple and a new, paid, associate priest who came over from the Church of the Messiah.

During bible study, our fearless leader (the rector) asked what a priest is. (We were reading Acts and the question seemed relevant at the time. Now I can't think why!)

Various answers around the room.

Mine: A priest is someone who can turn wine and crackers into God.

(This kind of goes with the 'real presence' post last week...)

Fr. P gave me a copy of the Sign of Jonas to read a while back. It is the autobiography of Thomas Merton during his first few years in the monastery. I remember when he gets ordained as a priest, he is kind of blown away by it. Before that, the distinction between monk and priest seemed vague to me. But he made a BIG deal about it in the book. Clearly the ability to consecrate the host and wine is HUGE. Huge. So, for me, that is probably what sets a priest apart from the average minister. They kind of stand in for Jesus. (They grant absolution, too, which will be the subject of another post, as I am getting ready to make my first private confession...)

Anyway, we've got a bunch of priests at Grace, including the married couple. Today, Mrs. priest and I were talking before the service and agreeing that there is something amazing about children being baptised when they are old enough to know what it means. We talked about how wonderful it is that they are taking communion now. And she happened to be the one that was giving communion this morning. Both of my kids were first in line before me, and as they took the host into their mouths,with such earnestness and expectation, Mrs. priest and I caught each others eye and started to weep, right there at the rail.

God is so very good.

He is so very good.

Last week, Noah said that the host was delicious.

Today he said it tastes like a potato chip with no salt.

All I know is that nothing in the world is sweeter and more tantalizing.


Emily said...

I love baptizing children in that middle age range, 5-10, because they do get so excited and can really participate in their own baptism.

(Although truly, all baptisms are really cool.)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

It is true: all baptisms are cool. I have seen several babies baptised in the last year at Grace, and the thing that floors me is that they are so placid. They are being held on their back by our big former football player of a priest, who is basically a stranger to them. They are manhandled here and there, water dumped unceremoniously on their heads... and never a peep. Mostly smiles, or looks of curiousity, or even laughter. The parents are always stunned because they never know whether junior is going to make a fuss in front of God and everyone, so there is relief. But Grace, too, because suddenly the parents recognize that these babies are not, truly, theirs. They belong to God. And the babies seem to know it.

It IS awesome.

Kim in KCK said...

On the question of "What is a priest?" - A book recommendation: "Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All" by L. William Countryman. It was assigned reading for a worship class, but one of the best we read.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Thanks, Kim, I'll check it out!

By the way, my husband and I lived in KCM for about a year! We were Unitarians, then, and attended All Souls.