Every morning before I leave the house, I turn off the house alarm. The ritual is involuntary. I punch in the code and habitually sing along with the voice coming from the keypad, “Disarmed, ready to arm.” Sometimes I wonder if the voice is coming from somewhere other than the keypad. Is from the Holy Spirit? “You are disarmed, but you are quick to rearm; be alert.” Or is it from Satan, “You are disarmed, you better rearm! Be alert.”
We are all quick to rearm. If we let our guard down and entertain vulnerability, we quickly discover this is a risk and have learned to allow these episodes infrequently and with caution. If I enter the house and turn the alarm off while the door is still open, the message changes: “Disarmed, not ready to arm.” If a door is open, the alarm is not armed. If it is closed, it is.
If Balaam’s ass can speak truth, then why not ADT?
Morning Prayer and Mass for the Christmas Feria. The first lessons have been from a very challenging 1 John. So much packed into so few words.
After mass, coffee and eggs, and then the morning was spent preparing the weekly newsletter and bulletin. So much of my role as parish priest is of storyteller. I’m called to tell the story of Jesus Christ. In doing so, I need to tell the story of the Church and our local mission. It’s not so much “announcements,” as it is Good News. This is what the Church is called to do and this is how we are striving to live this out in Winston-Salem. Of course, all of this is told so a story may be told of the lives of the faithful – this is how Jesus Christ, through the work of the Church, has brought new life, hope, and restoration to me. Sometimes the details of the story are clear, “Overflow Homeless Shelter Sign-Ups.” And sometimes, they are not, “Finance Commission Meeting.” Both tell a story of God’s provision and promise, but some are easier to understand than others.
After lunch I spent a little bit of time doing some study on the history of the biretta. My upcoming adult formation series will be on the spirituality of the mass in ten objects. I found some fascinating reflections in the Talmud and an old paper from The Ecclesiologist. I think – I hope – it will be far more interesting than one might assume.
I also spent some time planning the logistics for a visiting preacher next weekend. He’s a seminarian flying down from New York to spend the weekend with us and will preach on the Baptism of Our Lord and assist me at Evensong and Benediction. Over the weekend, he’ll see the city, the parish, and our shelter.
Some pastoral care was in order for the afternoon, including calling an elderly parishioner who moved away years ago and is in the hospital. I’m grateful for family members keeping us in the loop, even though members may be hours away. It is far easier to provide pastoral care when families participate in that care.
A large congregation of 9 met me for Evening Prayer. Luke, our divinity school intern, is now back from Christmas holiday. He led Shrine Prayers as I had to depart early to pick my daughter up from basketball practice.
She’s been wanting to try Chinese food, so I took her to my favorite Chinese place where we both had a generous helping of Mongolian beef. I’ll be on the lookout for my fortune. If you need my address, let me know.