Sunday, February 22, 2009

Within the liturgy

Today, during his homily, our Rector announced that he is retiring and will be leaving at the end of June.

He said it so matter of factly I almost didn't react at first. His homily was a prelude to our annual meeting, which took place following the service. By the time I really registered what he said, we were on to the Nicene Creed.

As we said the creed, it occurred to me that it was totally appropriate for him to sandwich his announcement in the middle of a service. It put the whole thing in context. Everything of importance in our lives finds context in our life of worship. Our births are celebrated, our baptisms, our funerals and weddings. We participate in a mass for all of it. In times of health crisis, we can be anointed, we bring communion to the housebound and the sick. We cycle through the church year, experiencing ups, downs and in-betweens. The church, the body of Christ, give us a vehicle for experiencing the rhythms of life, a context for understanding the natural ebbs and flows of our lives.

When I first was baptised, it was an experience, in my mind at least, that was wholly centered on me. My husband and mom were on the shore. The minister and I were in the water. We said our bit and then I was submerged. When I participated in my first Episcopal baptism, later that year, I remember feeling a little sorry for the man who was baptised because immediately afterwards, we moved on to the communion and he didn't really seem to have time to process any of what happened.

How foolish I was.

More and more, lately, I am coming to love the way the liturgy invites us to step out of the spotlight and allow ourselves to merge with something bigger, finer, more beautiful than we can imagine.

I think Bob understands this. I think that is one of the reasons he is such a remarkable priest.

I am going to miss him terribly.

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