As a family was walking out the front doors of the church at the close of Sunday’s service, one of the children said something like, “I never hear from God or see anything like others do.” Just then he looked up and saw what’s below and took a picture of it. His father came to get me and said, “Fr. Carl, you have to see this!” It was gone by the time I got outside. But then, it wasn’t for me.
Those words bookended perhaps the best eulogy I have heard. The liturgy, in late April at Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax, was for a priest who was a good friend of mine and whose sins had become notorious – splashed across the Washington Post.
All three of his sons shared from their wounded hearts at the service. Each courageously expressing the pain and love they felt in their own way. The last to share, the youngest, the one who used the words above, was absolutely brilliant. So much so that when the preacher began, he simply said, “Ditto to what Jamie just said.” As he told me afterward he was tempted to stop there.
Lately, a huge doublewide, honestly ugly, modular building landed on our charming New Covenant campus. When I first saw it I thought, “I’m sure I’ll find the witch’s feet sticking out somewhere. I know she’s here.”
Its landing zone had been ‘out back.’ Out of sight, more or less. But zoning, or fire, or water, or sewage, or something brought it in from ‘out back.’ People used to say when coming on our property, ”What a beautiful campus.”
When someone asked, “What is that?” I came back with, “What do you see?”
After 40 plus years in the ministry I still find parish life fascinating and unconquerable. There are eddies of opinions swirling about and a plethora of tastes that go well beyond the riverbanks of religion. I can understand the diverse opinions but in this case what I find truly amazing are those that haven’t noticed the monstrosity in their midst!
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4.7-13
“I am going to send what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
These were the last instructions Jesus gave his disciples before he ascended into heaven. The disciples went to Jerusalem and waited.