I need to remind myself more frequently what a privilege it is to celebrate Sunday--the Lord's Day--as a parish priest. It's exhausting, particularly when there are add-ons, like a deanery pre-convention meeting in the afternoon. I'm worn out at the end of the day; my introversion is taxed to the max. All I really want to do in the evening is veg out in front of the television. There is invariably someone who says something that causes me to doubt myself, or the effectiveness of my ministry. And at the principal Mass, where nearly half the congregation is, for whatever reason, accustomed to walking in at any point after the Entrance Hymn and before the end of the sermon, I'm always anxious and depressed as that gradual process of pew infill takes place. Nowadays, of course, there is the tension emanating from how the larger Episcopal and Anglican world impacts our life together at St John's. My diocese (San Joaquin) faces a monumental decision in three weeks time--arguably the most important decision in our 95-year history. And we're in the holy season of Stewardshiptide, so there's a certain amount of anxiety over how the Anglican angst might affect our finances locally.
But, my God (and I mean that literally in this case), what a joy it is! What an unspeakable privilege. From Evening Prayer on Saturday night through the last coffee hour on Sunday in the early afternoon, I can't imagine anything else I'd rather be doing. I feel connected with who I am and what I'm called to be like at no other time. How did I get to be so lucky? We have evolved a liturgical ethos at St John's that consistently speaks to my soul and makes my heart sing. I know it does the same for others as well. Do I wish more were sharing in the fun? Absolutely! But I can't remember the last time we had a "dud" Sunday. Every week, my heart is overflowing with gratitude at the conclusion of the final liturgy. I feel surrounded by the beauty of holiness.
And it isn't just the beautiful surroundings of St John's. It's the beauty of the people. Yeah, we come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities. But when they're stretching out their hands at the communion rail (into the courts of Heaven, as I am wont to teach them), they're all beautiful to me. I am privileged to have been let into their lives in varying degrees, and as I press the Body of Christ into their hands, it is a precious moment of insight into the mystery of how the brokenness of our lives, when made available to God in Christ, can become the very tools by which God reweaves the fabric of His fallen creation. In giving out the Bread of Heaven, I am watching redemption happen before my eyes. Can it get any better than that?