August 30, 2022

From the Rector…

It was nice to get away last week, even if all we did was hang out on a boat, read, and drink fruity drinks. We had decided that since we were going to be “cut off” from the outside world (no cellular or wi-fi to keep us connected), we would make an effort to reconnect with one another. Steve is not a big fan of sitting outside in the sun, which I love. I am not a big fan of bourbon hunting, which Steve loves. So, Steve sat out in the sun with me, and I went bourbon hunting with him when we were in port. We spent time each morning talking about the various activities that the day offered and chose the things we wanted to do together. About the only time we spent apart was when I went for a run, and he slept in. It was a relaxing vacation, but it was also an intentional time for us to be renewed in our relationship with one another. It was a sabbath experience.

Though I had not planned on telling anyone I was a priest while we were on vacation, the subject invariably came up— “So, what do you do for a living?” I hadn’t really thought about how I would answer the question and though I tried to steer the conversation away from anything religious or vocation related at brunch, the couple we were seated with, asked. I couldn’t lie or think of a loophole, so I responded that I was an Episcopal priest which was met with slightly raised eyebrows and me being engaged in matters of theology and church politics for the rest of the week as news of my call began to spread. Fortunately, those were mostly limited to conversation at the bar and, all but one night, I could easily extricate myself from them. It did, however, serve to remind me that my priesthood is with me wherever I go.

It’s not that I ever want to stop being a priest or that I even wish I were not a priest. It is simply that sometimes people only see the collar—even when I’m not wearing it. You’ve probably had this experience, when someone discovers who you are or where you are from or what you do and they automatically assign whatever they might believe about your industry, hometown, or family name to you and you find yourself embroiled in a conversation that forces you to defend or encourage a position you may not have or didn’t really want to discuss. I love talking about Jesus. I even love talking about the church. But I am not as fond of defending the church to those who have already made up their minds about particular church beliefs that do not gee-haw with their own—at least not while I am on vacation.

At first, I was resistant and dismissive of any conversation that seemed to lead down a narrow road into a world filled with rules and shoulds that I may or may not agree with—and those conversations bordered both sides of the spectrum—but after I resigned myself to the realization that these were unavoidable, I began to utilize them as opportunities for evangelism. And that got kind of fun. Rarely, do I out and out evangelize to people I disagree with theologically—but they asked me, so I jumped in. I can’t say I converted any new believers, but I did get to start talking about love—a lot. And even though my words were met with disagreement, I could see that they had never truly been given permission to love others who were different than themselves. Their backgrounds had instead been focused on who deserved love and who deserved punishment—acceptance was never part of their theological upbringing.

So in response to all of those who have asked me if I had fun on my vacation, yes! Though maybe not the kind of fun most people enjoy. I guess I might need to edit my first sentence:

It was nice to get away last week, even if all we did was hang out on a boat, read, drink fruity drinks, and evangelize for the kingdom.

Light and Life,