“While the people were standing on tiptoe with anticipation and they all wondered whether perhaps John could be the Christ …” Luke 3:15, New English Bible
The birth narratives in the Gospel of Luke and the characters that unfold these stories are so rich in placing me into the heart and mind of the Advent season and its reason. Along with them, we watch, wait, prepare, and greet the gift of the true Presence the world receives in the birth of Jesus. Similar to these partners of faith from Luke’s story, we too have been watching … waiting … preparing … and now greeting the coming of our Bishop-elect Kevin Brown into our family of faith that is the Diocese of Delaware.
On All Saints Day, the diocesan staff welcomed Bishop-elect Brown into the places and spaces where he, with them, will live and move and serve the people of our diocese in our days ahead. A day anticipated, just a little more than three months since his election in July, but seeming like it would never come. A gentle conversation around the table of breakfast treats, coming to know one another through the stories of life, faith, and future. Now with Kevin and Caroline, their daughters Margaret and Emily, we join them on “the tiptoe of expectation” as we move toward the day of celebration, the ordination and consecration of our 11th bishop of Delaware. Yet there is something about expectation that does not sit as well with me. It resonates in one of those sayings from the rooms of recovery, the very rooms that are part of so many of our buildings in which we provide sanctuary and anonymity.
The saying is “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” What I have learned in life is that when I place expectations on others, or myself, I am pretty sure I will be disappointed before anything is started. Being human means we will hold expectations. They can be helpful guides, even motivators, moving us in ways toward goals and futures not to be achieved otherwise. Yet on the flip side of this coin, they can become those things we will never be satisfied with the outcome by ourselves or others. I anticipate we are holding unspoken expectations of our bishop-elect as I write this article – some lofty, some practical, and most all of them personal. While they are very human and can be very healthy when we make a change of one word and move to standing on “the tiptoe of PARTICIPATION”.
One of the many things that have worked well through our journey these past months is that we ALL have shared in the life, ministry, and leadership of our diocese! Mutually, we have thought, spoken, and shared in leadership throughout our days of this transition. As opportunities for ministry have arisen, our parish communities have stepped forward in support, presence, and PARTICIPATION with all of God’s children in ways spiritual and temporal. In response to the events that have become so divisive in our land, we stood with those who are marginalized in PARTICIPATION and said “These are God’s chosen ones too.” As the challenges of the streets of our major city continued to boil with deadly violence, we joined sisters and brothers of all walks of life and faith in PARTICIPATION and proclaimed, “These are God’s chosen ones too!” We continue to be intentional in our PARTICIPATION as God’s stewards of this “fragile earth, our island home” with the installation of solar panels than now cool and heat our diocesan offices, and the currently needed and future work at Camp Arrowhead for the ministry of our church through children and families, to grow in spiritual life together.
We stand together, on “the tiptoe of PARTICIPATION,” now just 30 days, 8 hours, 39 minutes, and … well, time marches on toward the day of great expectation of the ordination and consecration of our 11th bishop of Delaware Kevin S. Brown. All the consents have been gathered … the Presiding Bishop sent his enthusiastic blessings to be with us on this glorious day of Saturday, December 9 at Delaware State University … the Transition Committee, our Liturgical Officer, and diocesan staff is hard at work to make this day be the best we can be as our diocese. Then we move into our mutual life and ministry together. From this day onward, may we welcome Kevin and Caroline, Margaret and Emily, to sharing in the ministry around our tables of God’s grace throughout the diocese, together.
May we, the people of the Delaware branch of the Jesus Movement, begin our journey together with Bishop-elect Brown, embraced by and embracing each other with this blessing offered by John O’Donohue …
“Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”
Grateful always, your servant in Christ,
The Reverend Paul Gennett, Jr.
President of the Standing Committee
John O’Donohue. To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, New York, NY. 2008