This weekend, I attended the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends in Hawaii. The fact that it was in Hawaii doesn't really matter, other than it's fun to rub in. It was a tropical paradise and certainly a fabulous place to run away to -- just as the semester begins.
I was honored with the opportunity of reading one of the sacred texts -- though not the Gospel. The Catholic priest presiding over the ceremony made it clear that I was inadequate in many ways. Never mind that I dropped the bomb that I am in seminary. An (almost) ordained woman?? Perish the thought.
I mention this priest to remind myself -- and others -- to remember to celebrate. When liturgy becomes anything close to going through the motions, we have lost something. Jane and Patrick do not celebrate their faith in any overt way. They may not attend this parish again for prayer or worship. But, it meant something to them to be in the blessing of the Catholic Church before God, their family and friends on this day.
In this wonderful proclamation of love, the priest just muttered. He muttered as if it was an annoying inconvenience to be present at this celebration! He muttered like they were empty words without meaning to the gathered. We were not all Catholic. We were not even all Christian. But to call upon God in this celebration means something, so do it with a smile. Do it with grace. Do it with love. I was so angry with this blatant dismissal of the possibility of God's profound place in this celebration. Now, Jane and Patrick might not feel this way. They might not share my anger or have even caught the bitter attitude of the priest. Nevertheless, it frustrates me that we so often fail to celebrate the unexpected.
Smile. Proclaim. Share. Sing. And bestow God's blessing with great love. This is our calling as clergy. If the motions and words become empty, then we must be attentive to the Spirit bringing new possibility. Until the Spirit is clear on where we are headed, for the love of God, SMILE.