SERMON AT CONSECRATION OF Daniel Hayden Martins as BISHOP OF SPRINGFIELD by Tony Clavier.
Feast of St. Joseph
March 19, 2011
Before the Second War the Bishop of Exeter was Lord William Gascoine Cecil, a descendent of Elizabeth I’s first Chief Minister. Bishop Cecil was a somewhat vague chap. One day he was traveling by train when the ticket collector emerged and asked for his ticket. After a long period during which the bishop searched his pockets and brief case the inspector said: It doesn’t matter my Lord. We know who you are. The Bishop replied: Doesn’t matter? If I can’t find my ticket, I don’t know where I’m going.
Dan you have arrived.
And here you are celebrating Saint Joseph, who for a while protected the Mother of the Church and the Savior of the World from Herod and village gossips-dont know which was more formidable – after which he disappears and is seen no more. Perhaps we better look elsewhere for our sermon today!
Eric Mascall, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century disliked the term “apostolic succession. It can mean that Anglican obsession with proving itself valid and authentic. It may also sound like Genealogy, which my mother always said provided one with ancestors one would never invite to tea.
Mascall always insisted that the term “apostolic succession” is misleading. Rather a new bishop is incorporated into the Apostolic Fellowship of the living and the “dead”.
If this be true, if we are now, here, surrounded by the glorious company of the apostles, then here somewhere is Philander Chase, first Bishop of Illinois, who broke canon law by translating from one see to another without permission, from Ohio to Illinois, and secondly by accepted election to a diocese as yet not attached to the General Convention.
That doughty old Evangelical believed in “souls before structure” a policy which revived and created new areas in a formally moribund Episcopal Church.
Chase reminds us that structure may kill, when it throttles attempts for reform and our attempts to meet urgent crises. (Philander, you may go and sit next to Joseph)
Chase was succeeded by a bishop suspected of being sympathetic with the South in the Civil War: You Dan know something of this from your confirmation as bishop process; who was one of the Canadian and Americans who, in 1867 together with our then Presiding Bishop, John Henry Hopkins, wanted to make the Archbishop of Canterbury a Patriarch, much to the distress of that shy, retiring, scholarly Archbishop Longley and to the fury of the Archbishop of York, whose hobby was demanding that his primatial cross be carried before him in the Province of Canterbury. Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. The argument continues to this day.
You Dan are also being incorporated into the worldwide College of Bishops. You must constantly remind us that we are not an American sect or a Western sect, but rather, as our Constitution reminds us and the Creeds teach, part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Holding the universal and the local in tension without favoring one over the other seems to tax our imagination, particularly when we consider the Covenant, which I support. It is not difficult for God, who is Trinity in unity and unity in Trinity.
But where this concept is at its most fragile, strangely enough, is in its local part. At the time Bishop Frank Griswold was condemned to primacy one of our interminable reports was issued. This Report suggested that Episcopalians are proud to be so, love their parish churches, are suspicious of their diocese which they refer to as “them” and utterly ignorant of the goings on of the National Church unless something is done which disturbs the congregation or frightens the horses.
Inside our red doors may be found committed, faithful Episcopalians and their clergy, who love each other and their church. What should be their evangelism committee is termed outreach, for outside church, religion is not to be mentioned in polite society. Of course we try to advertise ourselves as warm, family, loving fellowships, but often that boils down to a desperate search for people who fit in, and can help fund a new boiler. We even go to classes where we learn how to attract new people and get them to accept the way things are. (Philander is getting excited) Your task Dan is to find ways to get your parishioners out of the church door and into the world, to become witnesses to Jesus and his compassion, forgiveness and love.
I was delighted to hear that the Bishop of Chicago and twenty-eight of his clergy went out into the market square and offered ashes on Ash Wednesday; a marvelous sacramental act and so much sounder than inviting unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion. So much for the Baptismal Covenant.
By now you may have thoughts of winking at dear Brenda and heading for the door.
When I was doing the job you today begin I often thought that Jesus was being sarcastic when he said “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” As I wrongly believed that I owned the yoke and burden, my family and I suffered from my dysfunction. PT Forsyth, preaching at an Anglican ordination instructed the ordinands to remember that Jesus is the rector of their parish and they are his curates. Jesus is our Presiding and our diocesan bishop. He calls us to represent him. You Dan will be Jesus’ suffragan, not his coadjutor.
And so we return to where we began. With the example of Joseph who cared for Mary, Mother of the Church, and Jesus, Our Lord and God, as you follow his example as Defender of the Church and it’s unity, as you are the diocese’s center of faith and unity and not an expensive but necessary confirmation and ordination machine. You belong to the Church in its Anglican expression in this diocese, in the Episcopal Church and in the worldwide Communion. You are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a communion which is personal and respectful. You are linked to him by his personal invitation, a concept so much stronger and more gentle than theories of universal jurisdiction
Jesus is described in the New Testament as “Prophet, Priest and King” and we, the church, through our baptism share in this vocation. Perhaps only Jesus is truly Prophet, Priest and King. The Church as God sees it is a reflection of such a ministry. We, alas, are fallen.
Dear Dan, my friend, don’t attempt to be prophetic. It’s an assumption tending towards personal vanity. I hear there is a long line of new bishops in our church applying for the charism of Prophet, a smaller line applying for Priest, while no bishop in the US has applied for King since 1776.
Stand as the Priest in this diocese, bring your people and the world to God, in submission and prayer. Stand for God and your people and this mid western world as you offer God’s forgiveness and love.
The Early Church abolished the order of prophet. It had become a nuisance! Remember that our Lord is the Prophet. The church isn’t a playground to be fixed, it is the Body of Christ. Rather be a pastoral bishop and draw all sides of our divided church into unity. Today there are people in this place together who usually would not wish to be seen together in our divided church. Jesus has enabled you to draw them together to pray for you Dan and to consecrate you. One hopes this is not a lost opportunity. We can find similar ways to enter into dialog without renouncing our principles. Remember that there is a chance that our principles are not God’s, or not entirely of God.
People of this diocese pray for your bishop and his wife in your thoughts and care. Support him. Make the way smooth for him. Comprovincial bishops of this province reach out to Dan and don’t burden him with too much advice.
Dan, take courage and walk now where Angels and Archangels and even bishops dwell. Let them touch your head as you are consecrated, enjoy the presence of those you love and see no more, and sense the presence of your Lord as you take Holy Food. Then get to work in confidence!
Brenda and you Dan have my love, my friendship and my blessing.
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