Time is a valuable commodity this morning and I am fussing about the next stop I have to make because I know I am going to be delayed. I park the car, run up the steps and through the doors and there it is. The sign-in table - in front of the metal detector - the officer with pen in hand. “Sign in, please,” she says smiling politely. “I just need to run into the office for a minute,” I say, looking at the metal detector and thinking about the cell phone on my belt, my metal belt buckle, the pen knife in my pocket. Signature recorded, I begin the fumbling pockets routine we’ve all seen at the airport. Usually, it’s the guy in line in front of you making his 3rd trip through the detector. His flight leaves in an hour while your seat was just assigned to a stand-by passenger. The difference is the people in front of me now are students and I’m not at an airport. I’m standing in the lobby of a school. “Go on,” the officer says, and I do. In the office, I am next in line behind 3 elementary students, two moms, and a middle schooler whose dog ate his homework. Eventually, one of the four secretaries looks at me and says, “Can I help you?” “I just want to leave something in the Principal’s office,” I plead, thinking of where I need to be next. “Ooh, he doesn’t like things dropped on his desk. Why don’t you just leave it with me.” I weave between the wee ones and the older kid whose dog is about to get a D+ on the paper he ate and hand over Irene’s and my Pennsylvania property tax rebate check to the secretary. “Thank you,” I say. “Your name?” she asks. “Doesn’t matter,” I tell her. As I open the door to leave I hear her say, “Oh … oh! This is a check. You want to donate this?” I nod and wave. “Thank you … thank you very much,” she shouts across the room, her eyes brighter, her routine broken for the moment.
Almighty God, you have blessed us with the joy and care of teaching children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we nurture them, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted BCP)
“Good afternoon, Holy Apostles,” I answer on the second ring. “I’m new the area,” says the voice on the other end, “and I’m looking for a church that has praise music.” I mention our new hymnal supplements but guess that the caller may be seeking something more, a weeknight prayer and praise service perhaps. The caller wonders if there are churches in the area that are doctrinally conservative and I reply that there are outlooks spanning the whole spectrum in churches here. Perhaps my caller is trying to find something familiar - the church back home - and I name a parish or two in response to the question about doctrine. And I say, “If you choose to visit here, you will find a diverse and inclusive family … white, black, Jewish, Filipino, Chinese, gay, straight. Our diversity teaches us about our baptismal promises.” We talk a bit more. It is a subdued and gentle conversation. My caller says thank you and continues on the journey.
O God, who created all people in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of your family. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friends and fellowship, and show us your presence in each of us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted BCP)
The day is coming to an end, the pace slows a little and I feel myself gearing down. Some phone calls to friends before I go home. One is lonely, one is making plans we all make as we get older, one is relatively new to our church. One reminisces, one summons the courage to make major changes, one offers new energy and new talent. When I hang up the phone for the last time, check the doors and reach for the light switch, I look again at the parish directory displayed on the wall in the office. The names and faces and personalities of everyone. And I think, “How grateful I am to be in their midst. Each of us with something we need. Each of us with something to offer.” What stewardship that is. What balance. I hear the timers click and the outside lights go on. Dusk. Time to go home.
O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen. (BCP)
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