Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday: Will you be a faithful servant of all those committed to your care?

This morning I drove to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Culpeper, Va., about an hour north of Charlottesville. There I joined other priests and one deacon in the annual Holy Week rite of reaffirming our ordination vows.

Bishop Shannon Johnston, who will take over as diocesan bishop this fall, presided. He preached a moving homily about how we are to "do as we are." That is, we are ordained because that is who God made us to be, and we are to live and act as we are made to be.

Yet Bishop Johnston also noted that he is still in the act of becoming a bishop, as the rest of us are in the act of becoming who we are made to be. "Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are still at it," he said, and he implored us to be aware of how we are always in the process of being made by our Creator. 

And as we are made, we are called to be servants, to live as Jesus, serving each other. That is, after all, the point Jesus makes at the Last Supper by washing the feet of his followers, which we remember on Maundy Thursday.

When Bishop Johnston was through speaking, he washed the feet a few priests who represented the rest of us (and that is the bishop's back in the photo, as he is washing feet). Then we stood and joined in reaffirming our ordination vows. We were asked this question:  

"Do you reaffirm your promise to be a faithful servant of all those committed to your care, patterning your life in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?"

"I do," we replied. And I added, "With God's help."

Last year at this time, I participated in a similar Holy Week rite of reaffirmation of ordination vows, at Grace Cathedral, in San Francisco. When we reached that sentence above, that is when I knew I had been called to St. Paul's Memorial Church in Charlottesville, and when I knew what my answer would be. I will go, "With God's help."

Then, as last year, when we had finished our vows, we celebrated once again our Holy Eucharist, our Holy Thanksgiving.

Tonight at 7:30 pm we will wash feet at St. Paul's observing our Maundy Thursday. Please join us.

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