This past weekend was a great time, divided between two commitments. On the community front, my spouse and I had the great pleasure of singing with Vocal Alchemy, the community choir we joined last fall. The major work on the program was Schubert’s Mass #2 in G Major, a lovely piece with some very special vocal challenges. (It’s what sopranos and tenors call a “screech”!) I had the privilege of singing the bass solo in the Benedictus, which was a very wonderful experience. A great experience, no less than some of the concerts we sang with the Richard Eaton Singers in past years. One of the interesting aspects for me was standing in the back row, right up against the organ. You haven’t lived until you’ve sung a concert with a pipe organ right behind you!
That was a great experience, but the highlight of the weekend for me was a celebrating the Eucharist at Holy Trinity. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed this part of my life until I put on my vestments on Sunday morning. I fluffed a few words in the Great Thanksgiving, a sign to me that I was more keyed up than I had really allowed myself to admit. After the service, quite a few people complimented me on, which felt good and also a little odd. After all, I was only doing what I had done almost every Sunday for 26 years!
In my early years of ordained ministry, I often found myself in the same kind of situation — being complimented for something that I was doing out of my sense of vocation. It took me a while to learn simply to say “Thank you,” and then move on. Yesterday’s experience took me right back to those days. One of the things that my early years as a priest did was help to confirm my confidence that God had in fact called me to this ministry, and therefore the Church had not made a huge mistake, regardless of what various people around me had said throughout the process. This weekend was much like those early days in some ways.
(In case you hadn’t figured it out before, I have long suffered from intense self-doubt and the self-criticism that follows from that.)
It was a wonderful weekend, receiving affirmations from different directions, and confirming my sense that we are where God has called us to be. Our move to Edmonton was primarily motivated by selfish needs: this is the one place we have regarded as home for most of our married life, and our daughter and grandchildren are in this area. That made the choice of place quite clear, but recent events have helped to tell me/us that this is not just a place to live, but also the place where God has called us — into a ministry that is beginning to unfold in exciting ways.
So… what is coming?
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday. Before heading off to a Vocal Alchemy rehearsal, we eat at Holy Trinity’s pancake supper, which I have been asked to open with grace.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. At 6 AM (egads!) I am scheduled to be at the Central LRT Station, participating in the Diocese of Edmonton‘s “Ashes to Go” program. Afternoon — the first session of a group study of Matthew’s Gospel. Evening — singing in Holy Trinity’s choir for the Ash Wednesday liturgy.
Thursday: church choir practice.
Sunday: for Lent 1 Holy Trinity has one of its very infrequent Sung Matins services. I have been asked to celebrate Eucharist in the chapel afterwards for those who really desire the sacrament — a great privilege!
I am settling in, finding myself a place in this city which I know and love, and in a faith community which I am coming to love deeply, even after only a few months.
The future looks more and more exciting all the time. I have come home to where God has called me.
Thanks be to God!