Tuesday, March 5, 2013

St. Clement's Splendor

Now that my departure from St. Clement's is drawing nigh, people have asked me what I am most going to miss when I move back to Chicago.  So, here are just seven of the most meaningful aspects of life at St. Clement's in alphabetical order.

Asperges with Todd Grundy at my 1st mass.
Asperges me:  As either the celebrant or deacon at Solemn High Mass on Sunday morning, one of the few times I ever get to hear the choir in all its glory--given the acoustics of the building--is during the asperges ritual at the beginning of the Mass.  The three sacred ministers process toward the back of the church--the celebrant sprinkling the faithful with holy water en route--who then wait for the choir to sing the Gloria Patri, before marching back down the center aisle to the chancel.  We only wait for about a minute, but the sound during that short time is extraordinarily beautiful.  It's definitely one of my favorite parts of the Mass at St. Clement's.

Atria:  Doing my weekly Bible study with the mostly Jewish residents at the Atria retirement community next to the church has been one of the most rewarding features of my ministry at St. Clement's.  It has been a privilege to get to know the life stories, faith journeys, and personalities of my regular study companions:  Alfred, Rose, Ruth, Anna, Peaches, Ted, Pamela, Stanley, among others. They are really an interesting and loving bunch of people.

Folding Machine:  No, seriously.  The thought of having to fold hundreds of Sunday bulletins by hand makes me sick to my stomach.  If you think I'm being ridiculous, then clearly you've never been in charge of producing service bulletins, particularly when there's an eight-page leaflet to do for a major feast with insert pages.  Along with the shaking machine to get all the pages even before folding, this thing is an absolute marvel. I will miss you greatly :(

Pulling out yet another yew bush in the rain.
Garden:  The garden has been a really happy space for me.  I have worked alongside so many wonderful people to pull out yew bushes, harvest herbs, and care for the plants on sunny days and in the pouring rain.  I have witnessed its transformation from an enclosed, uninviting lot to a space where people from the neighborhood come to sit and eat their lunches, draw, or simply sit quietly.  It is the place where I have played many a game of fetch with Becket and where the children from the Montessori school cultivate herbs and vegetables and play during lunchtime. 

With Marc Coleman, talking to an attendee at Outfest 2012.
People:  I hesitate to name anyone specifically, since I don't want to leave anyone out.  All the same, I smile every time I think about the Sunday mass, when Todd Grundy finished chanting the Epistle, and I said to the rector under my breath, "Thanks be to Todd," and made us both laugh.  And the time we all pulled together to care for server, Michael Arrington, when he collapsed at the altar on the Feast of the Annunciation.  And the first time Curt Mangel and I went out to 19th and Chesnut to do Ashes-to-Go, and we quite rightly got yelled at for setting up shop stupidly in front of a Kosher restaurant.  And when Bishop Michel leaned in toward me, sweating profusely, and asked me (also sweating profusely) if I was doing alright at my ordination.  And the many evenings out about town with Anthony Nichols and Michael Smith.  And drinking beer in the freezing rain with Marc Coleman and Ron Emrich at Outfest.  And I have tons more. . .

Breakfast at Pete's.
Pete's:  Although it certainly hasn't helped my waistline, meals at Pete's Famous Pizza at the end of Appletree Street has been the site of many fun and collegial meals with altar servers, out-of-town visitors, and of course, Fr. Reid.  There has been a lot of laughter, heart-to-heart talks, and strategizing for mission at those tables.  I'm especially fond of their Greek salad, meat lover's pizza, and buffalo wings.  I'll miss waitresses Lisa, Sue, and of course Angie, who knows my breakfast order by heart. 

Priestly ordination, Aug. 4, 2012.

Vestments:  You won't be surprised to hear that I will miss the exquisite vestments that I have been privileged enough to wear during my time at St. Clement's.  I have gotten exceedingly spoiled, to be sure.  Of course, I can be a priest without any of the trappings of the Church, including fancy vestments, diamond encrusted chalices, and reliquaries.  But they sure do make the experience rich and full of mystery, and I count myself lucky to have been included among the generations of priests who have donned these vestments, which are the result of so much love, skill, and devotion. 


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