At one parish we visited recently, I prefaced our talk by remarking that the life of a missionary raising support to go to the field feels an awful lot like “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.” We have put about 8,000 miles on our van in the last two months.
Until last Sunday, we had been on the road every weekend for eight weeks. The trips have been enjoyable, and it has been great fun to meet other faithful Anglicans in the REC and ACNA parishes we have visited., It sometimes feels like we, who have signed up to be strangers in a strange land, have already left home. But last Sunday, we were home. Coming back to our own parish felt so good. There were so many beloved faces that we had not seen in two months. Perhaps this is another way in which deputation helps prepare one for missionary life?
Last Sunday saw a celebration of the tenth anniversary of our parish’s reception into the Reformed Episcopal Church, so everyone was there. It was great to see Fr. Wayne McNamara and Fr. Chris Herman from Trinity’s sister churches in Dayton. They mean a tremendous amount to me personally, not only because they were my examiners for orders, but more importantly for their example of vibrant faith and good works in their parishes in Dayton.
Our kids were also visibly glad to be home. No longer self-conscious as they are when we visit another church, they romped and played with the other Trinity Church kids.
Bishop Morse was present to confirm Emily S. and install James M. as an acolyte. At the end of the service, he also commissioned us to represent the parish as missionaries, and the parishioners joined in laying hands on us. We appreciated this very much, since we see ourselves as the representatives not just of the bishop, but of all our senders, and especially of TREC.
Canon Bill Jerdan, without whom we would not be going as missionaries, was present to read a letter from the Board of Foreign Missions, and joined in laying hands on us (actually, on Hosanna in particular!).
Afterwards, the whole parish enjoyed a fried chicken lunch in the fellowship hall. This is nothing other than what Fr. Manto explained in his remarks before the bishop’s sermon: “We pray together, we worship together, and we eat together.” It is a simple but effective recipe for a congregation bound together by love.
The recipe has certainly worked on us. We love this church. These brothers and sisters have been the face of Christ to us for almost 10 years. Had they not loved us so well during that time, we would not be daring to do what we’re about to do — even though that same love will make the distance hurt. Doesn’t it always work that way? (Acts 20:37)