Friday, March 07, 2014

Ten Years Ago TODAY ...

... V. Gene Robinson became the 9th Bishop of New Hampshire. 

I would never have remembered the date save for a Google search that did not find what I was looking for, but popped up a list of events that included this one. And --  because I'm on sabbatical and have time to chase cyber rabbits down digital holes -- I searched and found this piece I wrote for my EVN (Every Voice Network) blog ... 10 years ago today ... from Concord NH.

And ... may I just way ... WHAT a difference a decade makes!! 

Susan's Blog | March 7, 2004: Ordinary and extraordinary: those are the first words that come to mind thinking about the celebration of new ministry held for the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7th.

The church was full, the children in the choir were wiggly, the people in the pews predictably increased the volume of their conversation when the organ prelude started and the procession had all the “ordinary suspects” for such an auspicious episcopal occasion: crucifers and torchbearers, choristers and clergy with a smattering of bishops in their red and white regalia.

The new bishop knocked on the door of St. Paul’s, Concord and said in a loud voice the words traditional for the celebration of a new ministry: “Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord” – and the door swung open as the Warden responded, “The Lord prosper you; we wish you well in the Name of the Lord.”

It sounded, felt and looked like every other Investiture I’ve ever attended: comfortable in its liturgical ordinariness. Then the choir launched into the anthem -- Psalm 23. As they sang the words “Yea, though I walk thro’ the valley of the shadow of death” I looked at Gene … standing alone in front of Bishops Knudsen and Theuner … keenly aware that because of the death threats he has received since his election last June he has had to become accustomed to security guards wherever he goes ... that he has worn bulletproof vest at public events ... that he has literally “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” in these last tumultuous weeks and months.

Suddenly the ordinary became extraordinary. I was overwhelmed with a sense of both gratitude and amazement that the contagious joy which has been a hallmark of his priesthood continues to be present in this extraordinary man as he begins his tenure at Bishop of New Hampshire.

I was seized with hope that his example will enable all of us -- in smaller and simpler and less dramatic ways -- to face the valleys of shadow that we encounter ... that threaten to derail us, to deflate us, to distract us from our call to love our God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

I was reminded in the text of the Gradual Anthem -- taken from the Luke's Gospel account of Jesus' reading of the prophet Isaiah -- that when we walk through that valley ... when people from our own hometown (or parish or diocese or communion) would rather throw us off a cliff than hear that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor then we stand in very good company -- alongside not only the Bishop of New Hampshire but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ -- Jesus of Nazareth -- Jesus the "prophet without honor in his own hometown."

And I was filled with expectation as I watched the Diocese of New Hampshire embrace their new bishop -- full of hope and joy and energy for the new beginnings ahead of them -- that we, too, can embrace our future as a people of God not fearful but hopeful -- not anxious but joyful -- not (in the words of the Collect for Ordinations prayed on Sunday in Concord) "cast down .. but raised up" -- trusting that all things are indeed being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made.

1 comment:

JCF said...

Susan, thank you for these memories.

"We ain't what we oughta be, we ain't what we gonna be, but THANK GOD ALMIGHTY we ain't what we was!"