Sunday, June 18, 2006

The peace that passes all understanding

During the ordination service yesterday I was fine until the middle of my little statement when I got to the part about my parents, and then the tears began to flow. It is a powerful thing, the working of the spirit. God reaches out and takes hold of a life and all of its past experiences, brings them to bear on the present moment, and then flings them out upon the path into the future. The service went on around the three of us being ordained as Andy and Jane prayed over and anointed us, and then Bishop Joe and Allison joined them for the laying on of hands. As Jane prayed while they stood with their hands upon me, I was keenly aware of the kairos of the moment. God was speaking through the church in the power of the spirit into my life in a new and refreshing way. I was given the symbols of the diaconate and of the community: the stole, the anointing oil, the Bible, and the Way of Living. Each symbol bore the meaning invested in it: the stole of servanthood, the oil of healing, the Bible of preaching, and the Way of Living of prayer. These are the mysteries I was given to bear, and the community stood with me, promising to uphold me as I seek to do so.

Later in the evening we had the Lindisfarne Community Review which included a range of things; as Abbess Jane said, "from the serious to the slightly ridiculous to the completely ridiculous." Mike shared about Breaking Bread Ministries in Chicago which he directs. Mike has a great deal of passion for his urban ministry to the poor and homeless in Chicago and it is an honor to be in the Community in which he is now ordained as he transforms so many lives and bears hope amidst despair. On the "completely ridiculous" end of the spectrum, I presented "The Gospel According to Eddie Izzard," which was rather heretical but hilariously funny. Afterwards, as Sam and Kara sang the newly composed Lindisfarne Community theme song, set to a couple of Christmas tunes, I was practically rolling on the floor laughing. One of the lines was "Larry uses big words." It's true, I admit it. And my community loves me anyway.

But here I do not really feel the need to use big words. The big words I employ in a vain attempt to point to the wonder of God and the exhiliration of living into divine life. But here big words are supurfluous because this community embodies divine life within itself. The fruits of the spirit well up from within the various members and overflow into one another, perichoretically merging with distinction and bearing us together to greater and greater heights. It is not as though this community does not have problems and conflicts from time to time, but the way in which we approach and address them marks us as qualitatively different than most of the other Christian communities I have been part of or party to.

Today the sun is bright and the lake glistens. Birdsongs accompany the somewhat lethargic movements of people who are recovering from and seeking to understand the workings of the spirit that filled us and this place just yesterday. There are quiet conversations going on all over the cottage accompanied by the lapping of the lakeshore only a few feet away. The Eucharist is not for a little while yet and there is time to explore the peace of this place and the love and joy we bring to one another. And there is a further journey ahead of me. I can see it just off in the distance, beckoning me forward, reminding me that I cannot remain here but must return to the work that has been laid before me. I do so as a new person, a new being in Christ, bearing the marks the Lindisfarne Community has bestowed upon me. I do so seeking to bring with me a piece of the irenic eudaimonia I have found here this weekend to the people I encounter along the way. And I continue to strive toward being as Christ to those I meet and finding Christ within them. Of course, all of these things are really just different ways of saying the same thing. We go in peace to love and serve our God. Amen.

Lindisfarne Community Theme Song

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