Tomorrow, God willing and the people consenting, the Bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will ordain my friends Bruce and Lori to the sacred order of deacons in Christ's one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
We met at St. Paul's in Ventura in the 1980's and have been friends since our children were in diapers. I babysat their girls while Lori studied for the bar exam and my boys sat with them in church while I sang in the choir. Our families owned a boat together, did holidays together, argued about politics and theology together -- and the unsubstantiated accusation that I once flung red wine on Bruce in the heat of an argument remains contested due to lack of evidence as to intent.
They moved to Florida and practiced law. I came out and practiced church. And we all -- my boys and their father and Bruce and Lori and their girls -- remained "those whose lives are closely linked" through many changes and chances over these now decades of friendship.
I wish I could be there tomorrow in person but I will certainly be there in spirit. My prayer for them is the same one I received from +Barbara Harris just before my ordination as a deacon: That they never forget that the power behind them is greater than the challenge ahead of them. And then I wish them much joy in service, a continued commitment to the work and witness of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made available to absolutely everybody and the most important tool for any practicing Christian -- lay or ordained: the power to not confuse God with the Church.
We thank you for raising up among us faithful servants for the ministry of your Word and Sacraments. We pray that they may be to us effective examples in word and action, in love and patience,and in holiness of life. Grant that we, with them, may serve you now, and always rejoice in your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.