This week marks just about the one year anniversary of my being back here with the Saints. The final rector candidates are wonderful people, and we can look forward to the call of the new rector of All Saints’ Church pretty soon! When I look back over the circle of the days of this year, over and over I am remembering how much FUN it is to be church with you. How good-natured you usually are, how hilarious you can be, how real you always are. Churches sometimes are not able to be these things which is too bad.
Betty Derrick mentioned to me that great “Celebrate me Home” song from Kenny Loggins and wrote us a note that gets at the feel of All Saints’ on our best days. And even on our bad days.
Here are both of us thinking about you and the great dance of All Saints’. Betty is in italics.
Some people joke that Episcopalians know how to party. (I have always taken it as a compliment.) It may be accurate but falls short of the essential truth, I think. What we really know how to do, at least at All Saints’, is celebrate. We mark the small and great moments of our life together with song, streamers, flowers, beautiful liturgy, procession and even cymbals. The Psalmist would be proud.
One of my favorite celebrations is the rite of baptism. There are colorful banners with each child’s name. We reconfirm our own vows as a church family… and then we sing the welcoming message to Harry’s grand melody and march through the sanctuary to applause. How wonderful is that!
Betty and I are also both into the pet blessings!
I love the smiles.
And I love the meetings.
And I love the public displays of affection.
And the blessings!
Here’s Betty: I learned an important lesson at the Blessing of the Animals several years ago. At the time I owned a young, frenetic, frighteningly intelligent border collie named Scout. By the time we took our place for the blessing, Scout had wrapped me around several lamp posts and provoked a number of other dogs by staring at them. When Walter Smith asked what I wanted him to pray for Scout, I answered “a calm and peaceful disposition.” Walter looked me squarely in the eye and replied, “I don’t think that is Scout’s nature.”
He proceeded to pray for a patient and understanding owner!
As I drove home with Scout, leaping from the front to the back seats, I thought: “that man just said I was the problem.” It was a lesson that not only changed my relationship with Scout but one I have remembered often with people. The Blessing of the Animals may seem a frivolous celebration to some, but it holds a lasting instruction for me.
My favorite and very complex celebration this year was Maundy Thursday. It is a night of betrayal and a night of love because that’s the way human beings roll. We had a supper that turned into eucharist in Ellis, which is exactly how the last supper turned into the first eucharist—in a secular room lit by the light of the love of Christ. And we washed feet.
Betty brings up one of our other best celebrations. Rarely do I sit at the back of the sanctuary, but I always try to for the no stress children’s Christmas pageant. From the back one has a good vantage point to see all the ears of the animals—or one year, the claws of a lobster.
I love that there are not just three “wise people”. We can use all the wisdom we can find. A friend worked on the pageant a few years ago when there were traditional costumes. More children volunteered than there were outfits. She stayed up many nights making angel wings. As she said, “ the heavenly host is not a finite number.” Indeed.
From the beginning of life to the remembrance of lives well-lived, we rejoice and celebrate. Through tears and laughter, we celebrate. We are reminded that each day is to be celebrated. We have good reason to celebrate. All are welcome at God’s table and we are home.
AMEN BETTY! THANKS FOR CELEBRATING US HOME!