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New Hampshire Consecration seen through the eyes of a layman - by Andy Freborg

AS EYE SEE IT: New Hampshire Consecration seen through the eyes of a layman

By Andy Freborg

Reflections on the Investiture of the Bishop of New Hampshire by
Integrity President Susan Russell (from Lift Every Voice Network 3/11/04)

RUSSELL: Ordinary and extraordinary: those are the first words that come
to mind thinking about the celebration of new ministry held for the
Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7th.

FREBORG: The Episcopal Church's unique contribution to the "Abomination
of Desolation" -- Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14 -- is what comes to mind in
grieving about this event; a general symptom of the fallenness of our world.

RUSSELL: The church was full, the children in the choir were wiggly, the
people in the pews predictably increased the volume of their
conversation when the organ prelude started.

FREBORG: How predictably reverent

RUSSELL: The procession had all the ordinary suspects94 for such an
auspicious episcopal occasion: crucifers and torchbearers, choristers
and clergy with
a smattering of bishops in their red and white regalia.

FREBORG: [Isaiah 1:10-16 ... "Listen to the LORD, you leaders of Israel!
You act just
like the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah. "I am sick of your
sacrifices," says the LORD. "Don't bring me any more burnt offerings! I
don't want the fat from your rams or other animals. I don't want to see
the blood from your offerings of bulls and rams and goats. Why do you
keep parading through my courts with your worthless sacrifices? The
incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils! Your celebrations and
Sabbath day, and your special day s for fasting--even your most pious
meetings--are all sinful and false. I
want nothing more to do with them. I hate all your festivals and
sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them! From now on, when you lift
up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look. Even though you offer
many prayers, I will not listen. Wash yourselves and be clean! Let me no
longer see your evil deed s. Give up your wicked ways."

RUSSELL: The new bishop knocked on the door of St. Paul's, Concord.

FREBORG: Tony Orlando - "Knock 3 times on the ceiling if you want me ...
twice on the pipes ..." -- I couldn't resist.

RUSSELL: "&and said in a loud voice the words traditional for the
celebration of a new ministry: Open for me the doors of righteousness; I
will enter them and give thanks to the Lord, and the door swung open as
the Warden responded, The Lord prosper you; we wish you well in the Name
of the Lord.

FREBORG: Luke 13:23-25 ... Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few be
saved?" He replied, "The door to heaven is narrow. Work hard to get in,
because many will try to enter, but when the head of the house has
locked the door, it w ill be too late. Then you will stand outside
knocking and pleading, `Lord, o pen the door for us!' But he will reply,
`I do not know you.' ---- Jesus warns that its not easy to follow him;
the way is narrow and we ALL have to drop our sinful and worldly
baggage, accept Him and follow Him alone.

RUSSELL: It sounded, felt and looked like every other Investiture I've
ever attended: comfortable in its liturgical ordinariness.

FREBORG: again see Isaiah 1:10-16

RUSSELL: Then the choir launched into the anthem -- Psalm 23. As they
sang the words "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I looked at Gene standing alone in front of Bishops Knudsen and
Theuner keenly aware that because of the death threats he has received
since his election last June he has had to become accustomed to security
guards wherever he goes ... that he has worn bulletproof vest at public
events ... that he has literally walked through the valley of the shadow
of death in these last tumultuous weeks and months.

FREBORG: a living martyr? --- also Romans 6:23... "For the wages of sin
is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus
our Lord." ... it really is a tragedy that VGR chooses sin, and we are
asked to embrace this choice; We all face similar choices every day - I
always thought it was part of the responsibilities of the clergy serve
as examples and help guide us through these choices.

RUSSELL: Suddenly the ordinary became extraordinary.

FREBORG: It was never "ordinary" ... and "extraordinary" is the
euphemistic understatement of the year.

RUSSELL: I was overwhelmed with a sense of both gratitude and amazement
that the contagious joy which has been a hallmark of his priesthood
continues to be present in this extraordinary man as he begins his
tenure at Bishop of New Hampshire.

FREBORG: He's a demagogue and symbol of a movement.

RUSSELL: I was seized with hope that his example will enable all of us
-- in smaller and simpler and less dramatic ways -- to face the valleys
of shadow that we encounter ... that threaten to derail us, to deflate
us, to distract us from our call to love our God and love our neighbors
as ourselves.

FREBORG: A tragic example of selfish ambition and manipulation .. but
God is working out a greater good.

RUSSELL: I was reminded in the text of the Gradual Anthem -- taken from
the Luke's Gospel account of Jesus' reading of the prophet Isaiah --
that when we walk through that valley ... when people from our own
hometown (or parish or diocese or communion) would rather throw us off a
cliff than hear that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed us to proclaim
the year of the Lord's favor then we stand in very good company --
alongside not only the Bishop of New Hampshire but our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ -- Jesus of Nazareth -- Jesus the "prophet without honor in
his own hometown."

FREBORG: Jesus was much more than a prophet .. and I get shivers even
thinking about
drawing any analogies between Him and any man .. shameful. And I was
filled with expectation as I watched the Diocese of New Hampshire
embrace their new bishop -- full of hope and joy and energy for the new
beginnings ahead of them -- that we, too, can embrace our future as a
people of God not fearful but hopeful -- not anxious but joyful.

FREBORG: Embracing sin .. ambivalent to all else .. living for our own
desires and embracing the fleeting enjoyment as "joy" trusting that all
things are indeed being brought to their perfection by him through whom
all things were made. All things does not include our own sinful desires.

Andy Freborg is a metallurgical engineer in Cleveland, Ohio, and serves
in lay ministerial work for the renewal of the Anglican Church in the
USA as part of a new church plant in the area.

END

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