This afternoon, I sent out my weekly e-mail to the parish, which you can read below. Ironically, within minutes of hitting the SEND button, Bishop Mariann sent HER weekly e-mail out to the diocese, which you can read at http://www.edow.org.
We had written about the same event, from different perspectives. I thought I would share my perspective with my parishioners.
“Dear friends in Christ,
This week, I spent two days at a Diocese of Washington (EDOW) Clergy Retreat, which is held annually. Bishop Mariann has been with us almost three years, so the theme evolved out of the Road to Emmaeus story in last Sunday’s gospel, asking the questions “Where are we now?” and “Where do we go from here?” Bishop Mariann did some speaking, and a lot of listening. As I watched her listen carefully to my colleagues and me–either in the large group, small group discussions, or one-on-one conversations, I found myself giving thanks to God for her leadership.
I remembered that during the Walkabouts before the election three years ago, Frank Lamancusa (a delegate from our parish) went to a particular Walkabout session which I did not attend. Later, I asked him, “Well, what did you think about the candidates?” He indicated that he was impressed with Mariann Budde from Minneapolis. In further discussion, he said, “You know, she doesn’t look like a bishop now. . .but in a few years, she will.”
As I watched +Mariann speak, pray, sing and respond to her clergy and staff over the past few days, I remembered what Frank had said. He was right. She looks more like a bishop now than she did three years ago, and that has nothing to do with vestments or liturgical things. Indeed, at our retreat, she never wore a collar or purple shirt. She never put on her mitre or any ecclesiastical vestments–not even when presiding at our Eucharist. Yet she is clearly our spiritual pastor and leader. It exudes quietly and powerfully out of her being.
During our final worship yesterday morning, we were given a chance to go forward and have her pray with us or bless us. As the final hymn began, clergy began to stand and get in line. One by one, we moved to stand in front of our pastor. Each of us spoke a few words to her for specific concerns. As I came forward, she laid one hand on my head and one on my shoulder, and–fully present to me–prayed specifically for me. Those moments felt very holy and precious, and I felt loved and cared for by my sister in Christ, by my leader in ministry. I felt encouraged and supported. And after all who wanted prayers had gone forward, someone suggested that we pray for HER. So the clergy of the Diocese of Washington–in jeans, Birkenstocks, sneakers, casual dress–all gathered around our chief pastor (also in jeans and tee shirt), laid hands on her, or if we could not reach her, on each others’ shoulders. We prayed for strength for her, for rest when she needed it, for wisdom. And in those moments, there was a palpable sense of the presence of God’s Spirit among us.
This coming Sunday is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Priests are often referred to as shepherds of their flocks. But in our Book of Common Prayer, only one order is recognized as shepherd: that of a bishop.
In the service Ordination of a Bishop, the following question is asked by one of the already ordained bishops:
“Bishop: As a chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption?
Answer (from bishop-elect): I will, in the name of Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.” (BCP, 518)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the most perfect incarnation of a shepherd that we have. And a bishop is entrusted with the human responsibility of guiding his/her flock–which first and foremost, I believe, is her clergy. This week, I was grateful–and not for the first time–that the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully three years ago when this diocese elected a chief priest and pastor who is, without a doubt, a faithful shepherd to her flock. I hope you will join me in asking God’s blessings on +Mariann Edgar Budde, and in giving God thanks for her leadership and ministry among us. ~Sheila+”