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The Tent Of Meeting

"You belong to the Bishop now."

That's pretty much what the diocesan representatives (Chair of the Commission on Ministry/Committee on Priesthood and the Coordinator of the Ordination Process) told us this afternoon at our retreat.  Once I was accepted by Bishop Johnston as a postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Virginia, I ceased being a representative of my presenting parish, Grace.  Lord Willing, and the creek don't rise, I will now always belong to some bishop, either here in VA or someplace else.

The image of "The Tent of Meeting" has resonated with me on retreat this weekend.  In the Book of Exodus, at Mount Sinai, The Lord provided Moses instructions to construct a portable tent-like sanctuary which would serve as the central place of worship for the people of Israel (Exodus 25-30).  The sanctuary was called both the "Tabernacle" ("dwelling") and the "Tent of Meeting."  The Israelites carried the Tent of Meeting with them as they traveled through the wilderness from Mount Sinai to Canaan.  Once Solomon completed construction of the first Temple in Jerusalem, the Tabernacle was no longer needed or used (1 Kings 6). 

As I greeted the COM/COP Chair today, I mentioned I was beginning to "pull up my tent pegs" at Grace.  He recalled the committee had expressed their concern for me doing that after having been at Grace for almost 29 years.  I, in turn, replied, "That was your concern, not mine".  I'd already come to terms with the fact this journey in discernment, call, community and change meant God was calling me/us forth into new ministry and away from Grace.

So I've been remembering places where my Tent of Meeting with God has been pitched:
  • St. Luke's, East Greenwich RI - it was there I was baptized at age 7;
  • St. Christopher's, Springfield VA - the place where I was confirmed as an adult in the church; and
  • Grace, Alexandria - where I made my marriage vows, reaffirmed my Baptismal Covenant, and accepted my call.  
I've begun taking down my tent at Grace to move on to the Big Old Seminary, eventually move to a field work parish and Mid-Atlantic Parish Training site, and later, The Lord Willing and God's People consenting, to be ordained and begin ministry in a new tent locale.  The Tent of Meeting is huge, and my part of that is more like a canopy.  But I do believe God will have a place for me in it as a priest in the church.  

The opportunities ahead excite me!  Today as we read through the examination of a Priest today, we began to consider the places of Comfort or Challenge we hear and feel in the vows we accept now as postulants.  I truly hope to realize the fruition of God's Call of me to be ordained priest.  Each time I said "I Will", my inner voice added "Only by God's Grace and Only With God's Help".  But that conviction is now firmly established like a tent peg that has been sunk deep into the ground as an anchor and a tether.  

Yes.  "I Will". 


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Belonging to a Bishop has been (and often remains) one of my bigger struggles with this whole life. My Bishop once told me that his ministry is grounded in the Rule of Benedict, which has provided much peace for me. The Rule, if you don't know, holds the abbot accountable for all of his decisions' impacts on a monastery. I find it comforting to know that it is in that light that my Bishop considers such decisions.
Thank you for your comment at my site. I needed that today.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )