There won't be a sermon post this week as I am at Kanuga for Suzanne Schleck's iconography class--THE GOSPEL IN LINE AND COLOR. This is the third class I have taken with Suzanne. I wrote my first icon at this Kanuga workshop inFebruary 2012 and then went to Richmond, Virginia to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in August 2012 for another class--also taught by Suzanne.
The creative aspect of these classes is certainly one of the gifts I receive, but the other gifts are those of silence and prayer. Suzanne sets a quiet, contemplative tone for the workshops and I find myself drawn into a space of prayer and closeness with God. The work of iconography does not come easily for me and I find that it requires my full focus--allowing me to push away the "things left undone" list and be present in the moment with God. I need that right now--partially because it is Lent and partially because my life has been very busy recently.
I am one of five final candidates for Bishop of Southwestern Virginia (the election is March 9th) and this discernment process has been rich and full and continues to fill me with hope for the Church. But all this has been added to an already rich and full life as a parish priest. These days here at Kanuga are true gift-- to be able to step away from (or perhaps step more closely toward) pondering what God is stirring up in my life. I am not here this week to achieve; I am here this week to be.
There was a wonderful meditation by Joe Chambers on the CREDO Lenten website this week. Part of his reflection is this:
What lies in the open space between you and the moment of decision? Is it faith? Is it hopeful anticipation? Self-doubt? Pessimism and angst?
A bishop candidate was once asked how he made it through the process unscathed; his reply was that nothing really mattered at all--except for the fact that he was deeply loved by God. That was all he needed, all he needed to know.
Will you put your whole trust in God's grace and love?
Perhaps that is the true gift of taking time away, especially during a very busy time: to create an open space so one might consciously remember how deeply we are loved by God and to have our hearts open fully to God's grace.
As the Benedictines say, Always we begin again...
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PS--I am grateful to the Rev. Jane Smith for supplying at St. John's this weekend. She is truly beloved by that congregation and she has helped me in more ways than one can ask or imagine. Her generosity makes it possible for me to be here. Thank you, Jane, and thank you to all clergy who do supply work!