Upon returning, I found that I enjoyed this form of communication. I am the kind of person who tends to write things out in order to know what I'm thinking. I've never really had the discipline to keep a journal, but for me blogging has been something like what I imagine that would be like. And since I never know exactly who will be reading these posts, I mostly am writing for myself, with an invitation to anyone who wishes to "listen in" to do so.
For a while I was aware of trying to find my "blogging voice" and even though I often print sermons or portions of sermons here, that that voice was not identical to my voice in the pulpit. What did become clear is that while I have sometimes veered into more personal reflections, the primary context out of which these ruminations have emerged has been as a parish priest in the suburban congregation of St. Francis Church, in central Massachusetts.
Two weeks ago, on the Feast of Pentecost, I said goodbye to that congregation after having served more than fifteen years as their rector. I've been blogging about that transition for some time. In fact the past year has been a season of one transition after another. Last fall, my wife and I became "empty-nesters" as we took our youngest off to college and this past week our eldest graduated from college. We are in the process of moving out of the rectory we have called home for all these years, after purchasing our first house in Worcester, MA. And while there has been some overlap to this point, today is my official "first day" as one of two Canons to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. For those who are not sure what I just said, I wrote about this back in January. The summary version of that post is here:
Canon to the Ordinary. A canon who is specific to the Bishop's office; a staff officer who performs tasks as assigned by the Ordinary (i.e. Diocesan Bishop.)Five months later, as I now officially begin this job, I know a bit more about what it will entail. Yet like all new adventures, I know there will be some surprises along the way. As I wake this morning, it is with a sense of hopeful expectation. While I've moved most of my office from Holden to Diocesan House in Springfield, I am not actually heading into that office until later this week. Canons to the Ordinary from all of the New England Dioceses (what we Episcopalians call "Province One") will be gathering tomorrow afternoon in Burlington, Vermont for a few days together, as they do semi-annually. I am excited about meeting with them all, including my new partner in this work, the Rev. Canon Pamela Mott.
People have asked me if I will keep blogging. The answer is yes, I hope so. But what is changing for me is the context of my ministry. While there will be some continuity, I know that working in a diocesan ministry will be different from parish ministry; which means that my questions will be evolving. I'll still be preaching a fair amount, but I'll be in different congregations each week. I expect to continue to post sermons (or portions of them) to this blog. In between, I will be continuing to try to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Jesus in this time and place.
As all of this unfolds, I am reminded of T. S. Eliot's words in "Little Gidding" -
For last year's words belong to last year's language / And next year's words await another voice.I hope that readers of this blog will "bear with me" as I seek to find that new voice.