Christine is the senior rector of Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, but more importantly, she is MY PRIEST. I say that with every bit as much reverence as most people say that Tom Baker is their Doctor. Actually, becoming a priest and becoming The Doctor are a lot alike. Same software (theology), different case (personality). I have been meaning to e-mail Christine since, like, a hundred years.
Lisa is a recurring celebrant/preacher at Epiphany since she’s already gone through what my friend Sarah (of Going Jesus) once called “the swimsuit competition.”
Dear Christine & Lisa,
I thought I had my life all figured out until yesterday. I was sitting there, minding my own business (I WASSSSAH!), when I got an instant message from an old friend who asked me if I’d do her wedding in a far off, dreamy-eyed sort of way. What happened the first time someone asked that of you? Do you remember what it was like being a young priest, and really feeling the mantle? My reaction was confusing and humbling. My first thought was, “why would you want someone in network security to do your wedding?” It took me a second to remember WHO I AM.
I am not defined by my job. I am defined by the love of Christ that runs through my veins like water for grape juice. I am defined by the truth I find when separating the red letters from the black. I am defined by the feeling I get that even though we may not be related by blood, we are still siblings. It’s funny, the older I get, the more I read the Bible with younger eyes. Really digging deep theologically in my late 30s is so much different than my early 20s. It my early 20s, I was the academician. Now, I am the gnostic.
For me, God is every side of every story ever written. You cannot think God. Either you feel it or you don’t, and I am not interested in belittling anyone. My problem with organized religion is that when it comes to the people that just aren’t feeling it, they’re feeling oppression from other “Christians” that’s going to turn them away from Christianity before they really get a chance to experience it on their own. It’s especially prevalent in small-town Texas, where you are either Methodist, Baptist, or Other, but never EVER “none.”
Deciding whether I wanted to be a priest has been going on a long time, mostly because I fight between the idea of living a normal life and an extraordinary one. I know that sounds so arrogant, but to take on the mantle of priest at all is, in a sense, arrogance. You’re advertising to the world that you are a spiritual guide with your vestments and still fallibly human on the inside. One of my church members in Portland put a stole on me when I was preaching one Sunday and my stars aligned. There’s a picture from that day in which I am so grounded that I look back on it and God whispers, “get it handled. You are not supposed to be protecting these kinds of networks. You’re supposed to be creating mine.” God is such a bitch sometimes. I’m all like, “I think I know what I’m doing” and God is all like, “you clearly don’t, but thanks for ALL YOUR HELP.” God, in my mind, sounds a lot like Chandler Bing.
If there’s someone from the Bible that I really identify with right now, it’s Moses. Not larger-than-life Charlton Heston Moses, but the kid who, when asked to lead the slaves out of Egypt, asked God why God didn’t want his brother, instead. It is the kind of transformation I am seeking. I want the kind of healing that will just stop me from saying “no” to the universe.