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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Bishop's Visitation

This Sunday was our bishop's annual visitation. This is a big deal in Episcopal churches, and perhaps more so here than in some places. Montana is a big state, and we are several hours from the cathedral in Helena, so it's not like he can simply stop by on a whim. Additionally, we are still in many ways recovering from the "ministry" of his predecessor (who was deposed by the national church-- and, as such things go, not nearly soon enough). So having a positive pastoral interaction with the episcopate had been a rare thing until the last few years.

Bp. Brookhart is a good man-- faithful, plainspoken, and with a kind heart. He met with all four vestries on Saturday, and then took the clergy and spouse (singular-- just my husband, as Randy's wife was otherwise committed) out for a lovely dinner. Then Sunday he celebrated the Eucharist at two of our altars, and folks were delighted to see and spend time with him.

I had been a bit nervous about this-- wanting things to go well for the first episcopal visit for which I was responsible as priest-in-charge. But preparations had gone pretty smoothly. The parish records are on their way to being in order (a bit of a challenge, as they have been maintained in some places better than in others in this region); the churches and grounds were clean and tidy; and the plans for coffee hour (at one church) and lunch (at the other) were in place.

Then it happened.

Sunday morning the bishop was vesting in our tiny sacristy before the first service. He had assembled his crozier (a beautiful thing, carved for him out of local hardwood by a parishioner in Missoula), and it was leaning against the door jamb while he finished putting on his vestments. I reached in to hand him a bulletin... and the sleeve of my alb must have brushed against it. It clattered to the ground and-- as I stared in amazed horror-- snapped in two. A long, jagged, angular crack, right through the middle along the grain.

Yep. I broke the crozier.

The bishop was very gracious, as I picked up the pieces and stammered stricken apologies. He turned down the Lay Eucharistic Minister's offer of duct tape (yes, she really did!), and mentioned a woodworker in Helena who would likely be able to repair it.

Then he turned to me and said, with a glint in his eye, "You realize, of course, that This Will Go On Your Permanent Record." And, after another pause, "So... where will you be seeking your next call? Alaska?"

Yes, sir, Right Reverend Father-in-God, sir.

Lord, have mercy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alaska's nice. Hawaii's better. ;-)

April 24, 2007 11:53 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How horrible. Still he sounds like he has a good sense of humor.

How did the rest of the visit go?

April 24, 2007 1:15 PM  

Blogger Jules said...

Oh you poor thing! I'm glad he was gracious about it.

April 24, 2007 1:58 PM  

Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

That is horrifying...and yet...Oh my. I am trying so hard not to laugh...It's just incredible.

Alaska it is.

April 24, 2007 3:50 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Shari: The rest of the visit was quite lovely. Good attendance at both churches that day, and godly worship... and a newish parishioner who spoke to me after the service about having her children baptized! Many blessings to be thankful for-- including a bishop with a forgiving heart and a sense of humor.

April 24, 2007 6:20 PM  

Blogger Di said...

AUGH!!! That was painful and mortifying just to read!

April 25, 2007 1:08 PM  

Blogger Connie said...

Oh No, No, No! Don't say it was so! I can not imagine what would happen here

... Got friends in AK, and hey they have an opening...for Bishop! Wouldn't that be just penance!

May 10, 2007 12:12 PM  

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