The service of Baptism with Confirmation (inc. all the sub-categories) is a great time to see the congregation anew. The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen was the presider and preacher. She was also a partner with our Catechist, Br. Michael-Gregory in the 6 weeks of preparation. A goodly number have taken her up on her offer of a personal conversation regarding this new turn in their spiritual journey. The congregation was born again, born from above.
In fairness to the current Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. James Mathes, we have always been blessed by excellent interactions with our Bishop. In fact, I believe that all of our diocesan bishops have done a good job with their visitations; taking time with a whole rage of people. The gift of a bishop in residence, pastoring, teaching, coaching and laughing for 42 days, however, is rare. The gift of a diocesan bishop welcoming a sister bishop to engage so deeply in the life of a congregation is even more rare. The congregation was born again, born from above.
The experience that we have had was summarized in a line from today’s gospel, John 3:16. “For God so loved…” We have been loved by people who track their loving from God. We have lived what it is like to have a Godly lover loose in our midst. The day was filled with intimate words for people who have made spiritual decisions, public affirmations of congregational ownership, and the catholic symbols of our connection to Christ – water, oil, bread and wine. The congregation was born again, born from above.
One of the most amazing gifts of our bishop in residence is to come from the outside, become a companion with the parish, and remind us of all the ways that God continues to love us. The new birth, the birth from above is all about this.
This is not so new. This is happening all the time. Today, my eyes were born from above and I could see in a new way all of the love that is the life of St. Paul’s. This is something that happens when we are open to the new people who are being baptized or confirmed. It is something that happens when we are open to new worshipers. It is something that happens when we are open to our Friday lunch guests. We will be born again, from above.
Maybe this IS all we need: “For God so loved…”