Today, I’m keenly aware of where I won’t be.
Every year on Holy Tuesday, the clergy of our diocese gather with our bishop at the cathedral and we reaffirm our ordination vows together. These vows we take as clergy shape our lives: We promise to conform to the doctrine and discipline of the church, to obey our bishop, to pray, to teach, and most importantly, to serve everyone in Christ’s name.
I love this day each year, and I cherish its impact on me. To hear brother and sister priests and deacons say with one voice “I Will” after each vow’s question is a clarifying reminder of what is most essential in my life, where my true priorities lie, and that I’m not alone in the gargantuan task of laboring for the kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.
The vows cut through all the details and diversions which muddle up my head and my sense of spiritual direction and they remind me of my True North.
Vows are so essential in the Christian life because they remind us of bedrock when everything else feels like quicksand.
Vows are not taken by clergy only; we all took vows at our baptism, or they were made for us, and we reaffirmed these vows with our own voice at our confirmation: Our commitment to the historic heritage of faith handed down to us, continuing in the apostles teaching and the breaking of bread, perseverance in resisting evil, proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and respecting the dignity of all people.
Some of these vows we’ve taken to help shape our lives are trickier to fulfill now than others, like gathering to break bread together at the altar. But many of these vows will serve to give shape and meaning to days which now seem foreign and amorphous.
I’ve been so encouraged to see how our community has expressed a deep desire to pray, connect, and encourage in the midst of this.
The Daily Office has helped Christians to order the passing day for over a thousand years. Praying in the morning, pausing in the middle of the day, and ending in prayer helps to dedicate our time to God, to ‘sanctify time’.
The community fostered by gathering around the altar is essential. Continue to reach out to your brothers and sisters in the parish.
And above all, continue to cherish and proclaim the Good News of God in Christ, that Gospel which redeemed and saved you, in a world which is so desperately in need of Good News.
Hold on to these promises as we enter Holy Week together. Gather with family or friends (digitally if necessary) to pray and to talk about what Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday mean to you.
And above all else, cling to the bedrock promise of Easter morning, that nothing is lost in God and death and alienation will never separate use from the love of God in Christ.