Greetings all! I pray that everyone is finding some time in their day to praise God and his creation. Summer in all its glory is all around us and you only have to look at the planters out in front of the church, or the hill that Kathryn Pratt has spent so much time working on, to see it blooming.
Last week is a blur to me partly because it went by so fast with my ordination to the priesthood and partly because Alexis and I left Minnesota the very next day for Maryland. We are called to assist my father-in-law. For those of you who don’t know “Dad” as I call him he is all I have left on earth that fills that title because my own dad died over ten years ago. Dad lost the ability to walk the year after Alexis’ mom passed away (2006). I take great pride and pleasure in helping him in any way that I am allowed too. Hence the trip out to Maryland where we will stay for a while.
The second reason this time period is a blur is that I worked so long and so hard for ordination and in reality the ceremony only took about one hour. My fellow cohort members and I have formed a strong bond. While MY ordination only took one hour, I was actually at the Cathedral from 11 am until about 4 pm because I participated in the two preceding ordinations. During one service I was psalmist, the other I proclaimed the Gospel. Then, seemingly just like that, it was my turn. I had both newly ordained priests, my fellow cohort members, participate in my ordination. We continue to talk with one another about two to three times a week.
I have realized since retiring from law enforcement how much I stifled or stuffed my feelings in that profession. It just didn’t seem appropriate (if only to me) to have a police officer who cried openly. But, now as a priest I find that when the spirit moves me I cry easily and often. That moment came when the cantor sang the SANCTE SPIRITUS, and I was kneeling. As hard as I tried to hold back tears they flowed out between my closed eyelids. As I opened my eyes and saw Bishop Loya place his hands on my head and say “Thomas Dial Roy I make you a priest in the Episcopal Church” I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit among us in the big almost empty Cathedral.
Bishop Loya charged me, as he did my fellow priests, with reading scripture and heeding its message. He encouraged us to tend the flock of Jesus while making a difference in the world that we have come to serve. Also, he was quick to point out that we will be doing that in the height of a global pandemic and racial unrest caused by our witnessing the murder of George Floyd and the ripple effects from that which have occurred around the world. Humanity watches and sometimes participates in the pulling down of offensive statues and removal of confederate flags across the country. There has been civil unrest and even some looting. Some folks think that we are on the verge of total anarchy and others think we just need to move on and be done with this part. They seem to think that everything will eventually be fine and go back to the way that it used to be if we just quiet down a bit. I have to say that I will not quiet down. Things will not and never should be “the way that they used to be.”
We the white people of the world hold and benefit from white privilege simply from the fact that our skin is white. Since we have this privilege we have the ability to extend our privilege to people of color and empower them. We have the power and we need to give our power away! We need to raise up those who don’t have power. When we see injustice and people being discriminated against because of their melanin we owe it to them to give them agency and power simply because of our society’s past transgressions.
Bishop Loya stopped in his sermon toward the end and said “Tom, what do we do now?” His question was meant to be rhetorical as he went on in his sermon but I would like to propose an answer here. I think we, as like minded Christians are bound by our Baptismal Covenant to respect the dignity of every human being. I personally don’t think we can do that if we continue to treat people differently because they are not white. We are the Episcopal Church where all are welcome. All means all. All races, all sexes, all sexual orientations. No one is better or worse than anyone else. We are all equal… or we should be. I think that’s how God sees us.
Peace and Blessings,