"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Friday, November 7, 2008

We Have A Bishop (moved)

Serving in the Episcopal DIocese of Pittsburgh is a real treat. I am often in awe of the godly and gifted clergy that I serve alongside here. Day in and day out, they are my friends, and sometimes in the ordinariness of that friendship I fail to notice what extra-ordinary people these folks are... but on days like today, one cannot miss the incredible joy and committment of these great men and women.

Today we re-elected bishop Duncan to be our bishop; making him effectively the seventh AND eighth bishop of the diocese. (Does this mean churches have to hang two pictures of him on the wall of episcopal fame?) Of course for those of us who do not recognize the deposition, it was a formality and simply a reconfirmation of what was already there.

What was amazing about it all was the spirit of joy and freedom and even levity, while at the same time it was obvious that these folks are committed and serious and ready to move forward, following Jesus whatever the cost. Of course it's that combination of joy and fearless committment that I love the most. And tonight that incredible combination was everywhere.

After he was elected, Bishop asked us will we pray, and the response was (of course) an overwhelming "yes". He asked us if we were willing to "cast out into the deep" and join him in mission, saying "you don't catch many fish close to shore. and we've had to stay close to shore, but now there's no excuse to stay close to shore. " When asked to stand to affirm that we were willing and ready to cast out into the deep, everyone within my field of vision eagerly stood. This wasn't just to look good, these are people who can't wait to cast out into the deep.

And there was laughter. One thing Pittsburgh does well is laugh together. The other thing we do well is fight for the Gospel together. These are some intense people in intense times, we work hard, we play hard. I'm honored to serve among them. I'll spare you the varous quotes, but even Bishop Duncan was more joyful and at ease than I've ever seen him. I feel that we have a renewed Bishop... and even though our assisting bishop is leaving us to return to England, I think there is a little of him in our new-old bishop, now, too.

As is frequent, bishop reported to us greetings from around the world and from our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Christian Church. It is so wonderful to know that we are in a wider communion, that the faith is tremendously broad (and that we need not compromise the integrity of the Gospel to encompass that latitude) and that we are so able to encourage one another.

Bishop is always reminding us to be ourselves at our best. Tonight, I think we were.

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