Our lady minister has left us to become the rector ("rectress"?) (musings of a wandering mind, are Internet ministers “e-rectors” and “e-rectresses”?) of a parish near Sacramento. Godspeed. She has provided wise counsel to the families in our Peninsula parish and has been a good friend. We will attend her installation in October.
Meanwhile, we have a new lady minister, who celebrated last Sunday’s communion. She has excellent diction, something that you normally don't think about but when you encounter it, seizes your attention. She rolls her “r’s”, and she enunciates clearly and authoritatively. She appears to have had voice training, perhaps some theatre. I’m going to enjoy listening to her---it won’t matter what she’s talking about. The fact that the lady minister has a reputation for producing meaningful content is a bonus.
The Episcopal Church is renowned for being one of the most liberal denominations in the country. It has ordained women into the priesthood and elevated a non-celibate homosexual priest to the rank of bishop, against the objections of Anglicans in other countries. I’ve listened to overtly political speeches from the pulpit, against the war, against greedy capitalists and racists, against despoilers of the environment and other straw-men caricatures of the Republican Party and its supporters. I suppose that represents some divine balancing of the scales against what reputedly occurs in Baptist and Mormon churches in flyover country.
Nevertheless, I keep returning on Sundays and roll my eyes, along with some of the other middle-aged guys who don’t say much but do a lot – ushering, looking after buildings and grounds, fund-raising, transporting and visiting shut-ins – to keep the place going. The troops in Iraq are included on the prayer list each Sunday, but I must confess that I made certain assumptions about the sincerity of certain individuals whom I know to be vehemently anti-war.
I was surprised when a woman arose to speak about the supply shortages experienced by our troops in Iraq and suggested that our congregation “adopt a platoon”. I was even more surprised when everyone enthusiastically endorsed that sentiment and donated goods, and money for shipping and buying more supplies, over the next several weeks. A list of what our troops need---non-warmaking materiel, of course—may be found here.
With many billions being spent on hurricane relief, it’s easy for us to forget other needs. And I learned a useful, and old lesson, about how easy it is to stereotype and harden our hearts against those who disagree with us. I need those reminders of my own flaws (since everyone I meet during the rest of the week thinks I'm perfect!), which is one of the reasons I keep coming back.
This wouldn't be a religious post without a quote from the good book. Here's a selective excerpt from Jonah, who was famous for being fish food:
The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. ...and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die.© 2005 Stephen Yuen
But God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?" and he said, "Yes, angry enough to die."