New year and a new bishop

At long last, the slate for candidates for bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts has been released. Our own Sasha Killewald was a member of the discernment committee that worked on compiling the slate, so thank you, Sasha, for all of your hard work! Candidates can also be nominated by petition process, described here, which closes January 31. (For an overview, read the Boston Globe article.) Our diocese spans churches large and small, mostly within the boundaries of Rt 495 and East into the Cape. Our current bishop, Tom Shaw, has served for twenty years. He’s a monk (literally-he’s a brother of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge). Open meetings will be held around the diocese March 14-19 for us to meet the candidates and ask questions. Rev. Holly Antolini is our dean here in the Alewife deanery, so we know her a bit better, as well as Rev. Sam Rodman, who works at the diocese with the Together Now Collaborative Campaign. Canonically resident clergy in the diocese will vote at a special convention on April 5, and each parish has two lay delegates as well-the same who attend Diocesan Convention each fall, in our case Mike Balulescu and Jonathan Duce, elected at the annual meeting. Voting members vote “by orders” (clergy in one pool and lay in the other) and the candidate with a majority of votes on the same ballot from both is the winner-occasionally bishops are elected on the first ballot, but usually it takes a few.

We could probably argue all day about whether the choice of the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is the most important choice of the year or the least important; institutional church politics are not exactly a thrill a minute. It is interesting, though, to think about the next steps for the diocese as we at Christ Church are perched at our annual meeting coming up in ten days. We’re compiling the annual report, which is available online in its current form. Limited paper copies will be available this Sunday in advance of the meeting on 1/26, but please download it online if you’re able to instead.

Looking back at 2013, we’ve also done some pretty amazing things. We concluded the Waltham CPA Historic Preservation-funded portion of our tower restoration. We emerged re-energized from the sabbatical time, an important time for me as rector and, I think, for you as a congregation to re-engage in ministry. We’ve welcomed a raft of new members, and grown our ranks of lay Eucharistic ministers, readers, and choristers (we can be particularly thankful that six of the new members who joined in 2013 are part of the choir!). We did new things, built on the old, and said goodbye to Amanda Gee, the Christie and August Families, and others who left Waltham. David, our organist, started a bell choir. We engaged a new, more open process for vestry nominations that will continue in 2014. There were deaths and births and Life just goes.

Through it all, there will be a bishop, there will be a rector, and there will be Christians of all kinds. Whatever the configuration of our diocese or our parish, the Spirit will be with us all. On Sunday, in my sermon I was sharing some background about the early church; what a change it was to understand that absolutely everyone, without exception, could be part of it. What a change, too, for that community to discover that the Messiah John announced wasn’t going to sweep in and set everything on fire with a big show of muscle. Instead, Jesus went to be baptized, to begin his ministry with the power of God’s love and solidarity. Reconciliation doesn’t come through force and dominance. That’s the kind of church we need to be, and the kind of leaders we need. Let’s pray to be open to what God will do.

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