People have been asking me that question for a couple of months now, because there are so many changes going on, major changes, and life won't really settle into a new normal before autumn. Most of the time, I really don't know how to answer this question. This is unusual for me, but I really don't know how I feel these days. "Are you excited?" people ask. Well, yes, I think so. "Are you sad?" Yes, certainly. Closing my business was part of the plan, and the right decision for this time in my life, but it was a loss. I will miss my clients. I sometimes think that after nineteen years as a therapist, I was finally starting to get pretty good at it. As much as I look forward to the next career, and the excitement and challenge of launching that, I have some grief about the endings in all of this.
I'm here in Williamsport, PA with friends and colleagues Dan Morrow and Caroline McCall. We're leading a short workshop on congregational development for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. Lots of lay and clergy church leaders are looking for ways to grow their churches, or to improve their organizational health and sustainability. These tools help them work together to achieve their goals. And - the weather today is perfect!
This short article was written sometime in 2014 to answer a question many people--inside and outside church life--ask: What is a deacon?
Each day in in the seven last days of Advent, an antiphon is appointed to be sung alongside the Song of Mary (Magnificat) at Evening Prayer. Each antiphon borrows an image or metaphor from the Hebrew Bible that reveals something about God. These antiphons have come to be known as the "O Antiphons," and inspire the text of the popular Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." I reflected on these images and wrote a few thoughts about what the images mean to me.
Today I did something I haven't done for nearly a year and a half: I took a chalice at Holy Communion, brought it to my lips, and drank from it. Don't worry: it wasn't wine. It was grape juice. What follows is a reflection from my own perspective: deacon, psychotherapist, lifelong participant in Protestant churches (Lutheran and Episcopal), and alcoholic. (I also studied sacramental theology about four years ago, and I read things, but don't expect the latest in the field here: this is just me sharing some of my experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Note also that I take to heart a line from page 103 of the Big Book of AA: "...we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!" This is not a manifesto, an argument, or the last word on anything. Take it or leave it.)