This past Sunday I had the opportunity to serve at the church where I was ordained a deacon and where I served as a curate.
It was the first time since I left that faith community over 25 years ago that I had functioned in any liturgical capacity there. Over the years, during the summer months when I’m in town, I quietly slip in and sit in the back.
As with most faith communities, there were a number of parishioners that I refer to as “B parishioners:” been there before me, been there while I was there, and been there after I was gone. There were also a whole host of folks I had never met, yet they all seemed to know who I was: “Oh, you’re the guy who was here and is now the Bishop in Minnesota.”
Regardless of whether they were “B parishioners” or folks who had joined since I left, there were a number of people who spoke quite proudly of the fact that, “One of our own is now the Bishop in Minnesota.”
All of this is quite humbling.
From my perspective, I am very grateful for the ways these faithful folks loved me into my early ordained life. Fred Rogers (AKA Mr. Rogers), in his acceptance speech for his 1997 Emmy, said, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence?”
And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, “I’ll watch the time.”
I am truly grateful for all those who have loved and continue to love me into being – as a bishop, a husband, a father, a brother, a friend, a human being.