Rector's Rhetoric -March 2017
It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose that’s true unless it’s done in mockery. I’ve been thinking about that as I prepare for Lent—who am I grooming myself to become, or better yet, who is God grooming me to become? What shape, what form, am I taking? Twenty-nine years of ordained ministry. . . have I changed for the better or am I still the same old person that I was so long ago? Perhaps that’s for someone else to evaluate. I can learn new things. I can even get better at performing the tasks that are expected of me, but am I different in the ways that really matter? Psychologists tell us that who we are and what we will be are determined long before we can even understand such things, but I’d like to think that I can change, because there are times when I don’t really like who I am.
There’s a priestly tradition in the Church that has fallen out of use for many, and that is to wear a black cassock beneath the white alb when celebrating the Eucharist. For a lot of us it’s just too hot, especially in the summer months, but I understand the symbolism. It’s the reminder that we are the sinful creatures that no honest person could deny. It is only when we put on Christ that the colors change and we are made new, and clean, and whole again. Putting on Christ, imitating Christ, letting Christ shape you into the person he desires, is a long and often arduous journey. It may take forty days or a lifetime of forty days, but that’s the kind of work our Lord seeks to do in each of us—changing, shaping, transforming us into our authentic selves.
As I contemplate the mystery of who I am and where I’m going, I must never lose sight that the desire for change was never mine to begin with. There is a longing that God creates in each of us because God desires communion. Achingly, God’s heart goes out to us in the form of a Son who will soon show us the extent of his love and what he desires in response. My hope is that we will approach Holy Week with hearts wide open, that his best work will be accomplished in you and in me. Come Lord Jesus.