Tag Archives: bishop

To be further clothed

All is in order for the ordination and consecration of Matthew Gunter as the Eighth Bishop of Fond du Lac.

At the rehearsal yesterday afternoon, we practiced helping Matt put on his new vestments. Some are familiar to him already — stole and chasuble — but some will feel awkward and uncomfortable at first.

Which way round does the miter go?

We wish not to be unclothed, but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up in life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (1 Cor. 5:4b-5)

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (BCP 100)

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The Ember Days: So what?

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The Ember Days are a strange item on the Church’s calendar.

They are “traditionally observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays after the First Sunday in Lent, the Day of Pentecost, Holy Cross Day, and December 13” (BCP 18).

The name comes, most likely, from the Latin Quatuor Tempora, or “four seasons,” so the Ember Days mark the four seasons of the natural year rather than seasons of the Church year.

Various sources link the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday observance to the early Christian practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays attested to in the Didache (ca. 60 AD) and to the Roman practice of fasting on Saturdays, too.

Since Pope Gelasius I instituted the practice in 494, it also became customary for the Ember Days to serve as days for ordinations. The faithful would join the ordinands in fasting on Wednesday and Friday, and the ordination would happen (as is still pretty common) on Saturday.

This association with ordination is expanded upon in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, and now the three collects appointed for the Ember Days (BCP 256) invite us to pray for:

I. Those to be ordained

II. The choice of fit persons for the ministry, and

III. For all Christians in their vocation

To mark these days in the Daily Office, it would be natural simply to use the first collect on Wednesday, the second on Friday, and the third on Saturday. You will notice that the third collect is the same as one of the Prayers for Mission (BCP 100) that we use regularly in Morning Prayer.

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So what? Why should we care about the Ember Days?

Well, let me bring it closer to home and give you some examples.

I am a member of the Commission on Ministry (COM) here in the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. Our job is to assist the bishop in the following ways:

  • to determine the present and future needs for ministry in the Diocese
  • to provide discernment processes for parishes and individuals seeking to identify and use their gifts in ministry
  • to provide continuing education for all people, lay and ordained, in their ministries
  • to support the development of the ministry of the laity in the Diocese and within parishes
  • to identify persons for Holy Orders, and to guide and examine seekers, aspirants, postulants, and candidates for the diaconate and priesthood in their journey toward ordination

Four times a year, the Ember Days specifically focus not just the COM but the whole Church on praying for all Christians in their vocation.

Today is Ember Wednesday, so we pray for those to be ordained. In our case, the next ordination in the Diocese is that of Fr. Matt Gunter, who will be ordained as our new bishop on Saturday, April 26. Today I pray not only for him but also for all who are working to make that ordination service a celebration of our life and ministry here in northeastern Wisconsin.

On Ember Friday, we pray for the choice of fit persons for the ministry. The COM just began offering a group discernment process called Circles of Light for all who are interested in seeking God’s will for their ministry, and of the 10 people in the group two think they might be interested in the diaconate and two in the priesthood. I’ll pray especially for those four people this Friday.

On Ember Saturday, we pray for all Christians in their vocation. This Saturday, I’ll be with the young adults of the Diocese at a Happening weekend, and I can’t think of a better time to pray for vocation than with high-school age Christians.

Who might you pray for during this Ember Week?

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Bonus Ember Day trivia!

I am deeply grateful to Michael P. Foley’s article on the Ember Days for this delicious — and I mean yummy! — bit of trivia:

Even the Far East was affected by the Ember days. In the sixteenth century, when Spanish and Portuguese missionaries settled in Nagasaki, Japan, they sought ways of making tasty meatless meals for Embertide and started deep-frying shrimp. The idea caught on with the Japanese, who applied the process to a number of different sea foods and vegetables. They called this delicious food—have you guessed it yet?—“tempura,” again from Quatuor Tempora.

So next time you’re out for sushi, take a moment to pray for those about to be ordained, for the choice of fit persons for the ministry, and for all Christians in their vocation. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for reading!

I’ve got a wild story to tell you

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All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:1-21)

I read recently that one reason the purple stone in a bishop’s ring is an amethyst is that the Greek word “amethystos” means “not drunk” — an interesting custom apparently derived from this morning’s reading. Don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds good.

“We are not drunk,” says Peter, “but have I got a wild story to tell you!”

As my own diocese continues its search for a new bishop, I wonder if we’ll consider our need for someone to tell the wild story — of the Spirit blowing in our midst and turning everything upside down — as much as we’ll consider our need for someone to maintain our little corner of the institution born on that Pentecost day so long ago.

The Word who is trustworthy

[A bishop] must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

The Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, where I serve as a deacon, is preparing to elect a new bishop. Our bishop, Russ Jacobus, has announced his retirement, and the Standing Committee is working on a diocesan profile so share with those who are eventually nominated. The election will take place in October.

Already this year, we have had several survey days for members of the diocese to discuss what is required (and desired) in a bishop, and what is required of each of us as members of Christ’s Body, the Church.

“Having a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy …” is an awfully good place to start.

One of the particular treasures of the Daily Office is that it soaks you in Scripture. You can’t help it — as you follow the Daily Office lectionary, you read all 150 Psalms every seven weeks, the New Testament in the course of a year, and the Old Testament over the course of two years.

But even more than that, in the Daily Office you read Scripture in the context of worship, in the context of prayer, in the context of a living relationship with Jesus, the Word who himself is trustworthy.

“I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God,” says John the Baptist in tonight’s Gospel reading (John 1:34).

It’s not just bishops who need to be able to “preach with sound doctrine.” All of us bear witness to the love we have known in Jesus, the love revealed on every page of the Scriptures and in every canticle and collect of the Daily Office.

I have seen and have testified to the Word who is trustworthy. You can trust him, too.