A Sermon for Chrism Mass Diocese of Bethlehem Cathedral Church of the Nativity Thursday, April 14, 2011 The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns John 3:1-17
There is a little boy that I know who loves gadgets. He loves to learn and understand how they work. He loves to watch them in action. When his family buys a new appliance or tool, he will want to know all about how it works, and think up reasons why he should run the air conditioner with the remote or vacuum something or wash a dirty towel.
Lest you think that this a housekeeping Godsend, every mother’s dream, consider this: he disdains picture books and the usual children’s literature and would much rather read the instruction—or better yet, the service—manuals for all these contraptions. Out loud. Right now.
He especially loves the troubleshooting guides in those manuals. And when you try to distract him from his need to tell you or any of his siblings in graphic detail all the possible solutions to any potential problem by saying something like “when something happens, you will be the first person I call” he will say to you in all seriousness “But if you wait until it’s broken, it will be too late.”
Don’t ask me why, but I really identify with this kid…and not just because I am A-V kid emeritus. I really love his enthusiasm when something new, shiny and fascinating comes along. I love that he wants to know how things works…he wants to understand. It is not enough to know what button does what but how each function happens. And I love how he wants to tell everyone about the new gadget in great, energetic, fascinated detail.
This wonderful little boy and the family he inhabits dramatize a truth about Christian community. When we “get” something, we want everyone to “get it”. And when we have found what works we want to understand and manage it.
In most places in the Christian world, the renewal of ordination vows and blessing of oils for the year are private services. In Bethlehem our liturgy is public, lay people are urged to be present, and there is a free lunch.
So why should you accept this invitation?
1) Besides the fact that it is a stunning and uplifting liturgy, it is your chance to be with other members of the diocese as we support and pray for our clergy as they re-commit themselves to to their service to us. It is also the time when together we pray over the oils that are used with the sick and at baptism and confirmation--each time those oils are applied, they represent the prayers of the entire diocese. Those of you with special ministries of healing and teaching will particularly want to be present.
2) Amazing Ecumenical Visitors Both the Bishop of the NE PA Synod of the ELCA and the President of the Eastern District of the Moravian Church will be present and for the first time, all three traditions will be represented in an Episcopal liturgy. This is history being made.
3) It is yet another opportunity to connect with sisters and brothers from around the diocese as we share lunch. The more connection we have, the better we function.
4) Pilgrimage In some ways, those who travel the farthest for this event will reap the most benefit. When we travel to do something, we change as we go; this is why the ancient practice of pilgrimage still has so much meaning. But whether you are crossing the street or crossing the mountains, making the effort to be at this service will bless you.
To let us know how much lunch to make, your priest will need to know how many are coming, so if you won't be there Sunday to raise your hand at announcement time, let him/her know otherwise, as we need a count on Monday.
I look forward to being with you on this important day.
PS: There will be modest but fun prizes for the children of church that comes the farthest, has the largest percent of its Average Sunday Attendance present, and largest number of attendees.