October 1, 2015
On Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m., we’ll gather to officially begin our new relationship. Ordinarily the installation service includes a moment when a number of symbolic gifts are offered to the new Rector…keys from the Wardens, bread and wine from liturgical ministers, a pitcher of water from the Bishop… but the staff and I are creating a liturgy that has me offering gifts to the community, as well.
What we are planning is a shift from the service laid out in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which focuses almost entirely on the priest with little recognition of the ongoing ministry of the congregation. Our “Renewal of Ministry” service sets ordained leadership within the context of baptism and commends a variety of gifts for mission.
The Bishop will bless a basin of water, hopefully the whole gang of us will get wet again, and together we’ll renew our promises to help God transform the world. The idea is to make this celebration about all of us, and to act out within the service the belief that our ministry is really only possible when it is shared.
Henry and Robert have planned the music, with all of our choirs taking part, and it will joyfully reflect the breadth of our choristers and musicians. The search committee will host a reception after the service, and they have promised to make it “simple, fun, and delicious.” I’ve invited a friend from Alabama to be the preacher, David Dill, someone that Cristina and I met several years ago at a conference called “Credo,” and I imagine he’ll have us both laughing and crying.
At the Eucharist we’ll use a prayer that I only discovered last week, on retreat with the vestry and staff. Gathered around the table, we will say, “Jesus was always the guest. In the homes of Peter and Jairus, Martha and Mary, Joanna and Susanna, he was always the guest. At the meal tables of the wealthy where he pled the case of the poor, he was always the guest. Upsetting polite company, befriending isolated people, welcoming the stranger, he was always the guest.”
“But here at this table, he is the host. Those who wish to serve him must first be served by him. Those who want to follow him must first be fed by him. For this is the table where God intends us to be nourished. This is the time when Christ can make us new. So come, as you hunger and thirst for a deeper faith, for a better life, for a fairer world. Jesus Christ, who sat at our tables, now invites us to be guests at his.” (Iona Community prayer)
We are on the threshold of something exciting at Redeemer and this is the time when Christ can make us new. God is calling us to build “the beautiful city” in Baltimore, to restore our faith in the family of man, to know and love our neighbors, to create deeper relationships within the parish, to discover our personal call to serve and to follow it wherever it takes us. Thank you for inviting me to join you.