A busy weekend. We had a pretty wild Sunday. Three regular services plus a monthly liturgy for the Youth and young-at-heart families and people staged in the Chapel, and we welcomed newcomers to the main 9:15. I preached in the "big church" while Ginny took the Youth Eucharist. I do miss being there. As much as I enjoy the choir, the music and the beauty of the main sanctuary; I also enjoy the change of pace, energy and flow that our monthly Youth Eucharists bring. I also missed a challenging "paper bag sermon." The custom in the YE's is to have a youth preacher. Then, as a coda to that, the celebrant/priest then welcomes a youth forward, who then brings a paper bag with some object in it. Totally anonymous and a surprise. Talk about the challenge to improvise, to brew up a cogent homily in seconds! Definitely my cup of tea. I do love the chance to preach extemporaneously.
This Sunday was a real treat for sports fans, particularly for fans of the Eagles with an appreciation for irony. The object was a signed, souvenir Philadelphia Eagles' football. No big deal until you noticed the names: Donovan McNabb and Terrel Owens. This, on Christ the King Sunday...In which the Gospel focuses on images of the Final Judgment in which Christ, enthroned as the Son of Man judges humanity, separating them, as it were, between sheep (good) and goats (bad). Talk about irony. For weeks, even I as a marginal-if-at-all sports fan have followed the implosion of the Eagles over T.O.'s stunts and posturing. Now, Ginny gets a prime image! Problem is, she doesn't follow football. In her own words "my husband turns on the game and I go listen to the opera on the radio!" Still, she got a good sermon out of it, I hear. Worked off the theme of the importance of finding a "good quarterback" in life. Jesus.
In the evening, Laura and I summoned up some reserves of energy and headed off for Peacemeal. What an awesome experience this monthly event is! On the third Sunday of each month during the program year, the people of Trinity welcome Bucks County survivors with HIV/AIDS to a dinner we host in the parish hall. Imagine a Sunday Dinner full of people who know, enjoy and love each other. Now imagine 40-50 people doing same. Tonight was the 10th Anniversary of the dinner. The founders all came back together, and a supreme effort was made to "gather the family" for the celebration. Like all good ministry moments, I always feel like I carry out more joy than I went in with at the outset. Tonight's dinner was no exception. We celebrated Thanksgiving early, with turkey and all the trimmings. LOTS of food and music (provided by our own James Wells, former theologian and jazz musician), coupled with good conversation, prayers of thanks from the guests and a short presentation from Emily Wolf, founder, and we had a GREAT time. There is a community celebration of World AIDS day in a couple of weeks that I hope to get people from Trinity to attend.
God is good. All the time.
All the time; God is good.
Tomorrow is FreshStart, a program through the diocese for clergy who have begun a call in the past year. I am looking forward to the time with that group. Some for sharing what is going on around the parish, our stewardship efforts, the progression of the program year and the successes and challenges of cookie bake, peacemeal and Christmas bazaar. Some for seeking advice from peers about same. Some for checking in about how the diocese is doing.
I haven't written about my first experience of diocesan convention here in PA yet. Mostly because it has taken me a while to digest all that went on in Philly at the cathedral on November 5th. I am also curious to see how what was an obviously contentious event is handled by those around me. At this point, I want to see how the lay of the land is around Bucks, the other deaneries and the diocese. It is good to live in interesting times, I guess.
I am also excited about our first Thanksgiving here in Bucks. Trinity does a mutual liturgy with St. Philip's, the Episcopal church that is literally down the hill from us. Always wanted to see the historic building from the inside and meet its people. Laura and I also have friends coming from Brooklyn for dinner and an overnight. Great fun!