Wednesday, January 18, 2012

As we prepare for the Bishop's Visit

Over the years as a priest, both associate and rector, I have seen reactions vary as clergy prepare for the formal Visitation of the Bishop. This is a rite of the Episcopal Church, with each parish in a Diocese receiving a visit from a Bishop at least once every three years. The Visitation can be an occasion of presenting members of the parish for the rites of confirmation or reaffirmation of Baptismal vows, or for reception of new members into this branch fo God's one holy, catholic and apostolic church.

One rector worked himself into a tizzy or nervous energy...nearly spilling a full chalice on the bishop as she prepared to celebrate the Eucharist.

I took an object lesson from that experience. Don't get too nervous, but stay alert. Do be organized, but not so organized that the Bishop wonders if there is anyone else in the parish besides the priest. Make room for the Bishop to actually be the chief pastor he, or she, is to the church you serve. For one Sunday out of three years, a rector gets to take a back seat on a Sunday and enjoy in a unique way just how blessed and special the parish they serve really is. If there is a enough grace in me to get out of the way, I get to see the parish through the eyes of the Bishop...and the Bishop gets to enjoy the parish without filters.

It is a blessing.

So, as St. Peter's prepares for its final visitation from our retiring Diocesan Bishop, we are also in the midst of the first phases of a massive rehabilitation of our property. For the past few weeks, we have had groups of volunteers coming to the Parish Hall to work on the framing and dry wall that will provide the canvas for final dressings and bring our Sunday School back onto the property after the floods of Irene. Our hope is that a "blitz-build" this weekend will get the major part of the work done, so that we can begin to paint, trim and refurnish the rooms for our programs and the chapel for our worship.

We are blessed, chiefly in that all of this work is being accomplished as a result of support given us from communities and individuals from literally across the nation. Were it not for them, we would not be here. Their donations have supported the cleanup, paid forthe remediation of asbestos bearing materials and necessary electrical work, and assured us that we can complete this first chapter of the restoration with the cash and care entrusted to us by their generosity.

The Bishop visits a parish on Sunday that is experiencing renewal in the wake of a storm's destruction. St. Peter's is a church that is indeed built on the firm foundation of a love fully vested in Christ and in a trust firmly placed in the good providence of the Holy Spirit.

God is GOOD!

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