From the Rector
Even on a sort of gloomy December day, I want to share with you a few pieces of Advential joy.
First, last night I had the privilege of attending the ordination of the Rev. Christopher “Topher” Rodgers to the Sacred Order of Priests. Topher was a longtime member and leader of Transfiguration, serving in a wide variety of capacities, until finally he succumbed to the whispering of the Holy Spirit and followed God’s call to seminary and holy orders. A big contingent from Transfiguration traveled to Wichita Falls to participate, including a choir of a dozen and seven current or former clergy. Heightening the joy of the day was the fact that Fr. Michael Merriman, who was himself ordained a priest in that very church 52 years ago this December, preached the sermon, and Fr. J.D. Godwin presented Topher with the stole and chasuble that he himself received at his own ordination to the priesthood 46 years ago.
The Rodgers are serving the three merged remnant congregations of the Episcopal Church in Wichita Falls, which remain after the fracture of the Diocese of Fort Worth over a decade ago. They both grew up there, so they know the city well, and possess the faith, intelligence, and dedication to renew our church’s witness to that community. I hope you’ll pray for them.
Second, even as we prepare for the Second Sunday of Advent, I can’t help but remember the joy of the first. Cindy Hauser once again created a fun, engaging Advent Festival for children and families, the Flower Guild facilitated the creation of Advent wreaths by 50 households, noble organizations allowed us the chance to support their work by selling fair-trade products, and the Transfiguration Choir provided a stunningly beautiful culmination to the day with Advent Lessons and Carols. I went to sleep last Sunday evening with a smile on my face and a heart filled with gratitude.
Third, the plans for the Wedding Celebration in January are coming together wonderfully! Word is spreading around the area and even into the wider Episcopal Church, and lots of folks are getting in touch to share their excitement and joy. I’m grateful that many of you have already donated to help with the event, and I’m tremendously excited that this past week I received word that we’ll have a special guest to participate in the service! Stay tuned to learn who it will be, and do please go online to register your desire to attend or offer a donation to support the day.
Even as I feel my heart swell with these experiences of joy, we need also remember to look around at our hurting world and allow our hearts to be troubled by the suffering of so many. As I preached last Sunday, Advent is not merely a time to get ready for Christmas, but also a time to be honest about our yearning for Christ’s return and the establishment of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. When our hearts are troubled, when we feel compassion stir us to hope for something more for all those who live in the shadow of death, we are experiencing something of what Advent is really about. It helps us understand why the Son of God would leave the glories of heaven to come down to dwell among us; why the forerunner of Christ would be a fiery desert preacher like John the Baptist; and why, since ancient times, Christians have prayed the single Aramaic word maranatha, meaning “Come, Lord!” We live in the great “not yet” of salvation history, before all things have been brought to their perfection by the one who created them, yet even as we wait in this “not yet,” we can work to bring more peace, mercy, and love to this hurting world “now.”
See you this weekend.