Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nunc dimittis - Departing in peace.


Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace

Anyone familiar with Evening Prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, is familiar with the Nunc dimittis. This canticle is based on the passage of Scripture we call the Song of Simeon. Simeon uttered these words after the fulfillment of a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he beheld the Messiah. When the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph presented the child, born to save the nations, he proclaimed the above words which we now liturgically render and commemorate. I have chosen these words today as my theme as I depart from one chapter of my life, and begin to walk another.

The departure is one that I never expected to happen. When I went to Anglicanism in 2004 I thought I was on the final leg of my pilgrimage which had started in the Southern Baptist Church, found its way into the Presbyterian Church, and then ran straight into Canterbury. Now, the old catch phrase, “All roads lead to Rome” is becoming surprisingly true in my life. Yet, this post is not about the path, or the reasons why I am converting. This post is an ode to my parish I am leaving; a parish which has strangely prepared me to go to Rome.

Grace Church, Monroe, has been good to me. I’ve experienced some of the most beautiful liturgies I have ever been part of at this parish. The reverence of the worship, the seriousness of the ritual, and the solemnity of the music is majestic. Further, for me, there have been many opportunities to serve the parish. I’ve served as Head Usher, Acolyte, Lay Reader, Thurifer, and Chaplin of our chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. I’ve led the Brotherhood through the first five chapter of Acts of the Apostles, and though I will not be able to finish the study, I know it has been an enjoyable experience for me and the other Brothers. I’ve also developed many close relationships at Grace Church which I hope to maintain as I continue down my path on my spiritual pilgrimage.

I can thank my rector, Canon Gregg Riley, for his support of my decision to walk the Roman Road. He has been there for me many times when I have needed his advice in the past, and also allowed me to function in many capacities at Grace Church which have been very enjoyable. I particularly thank him for training me as a thurifer. His Anglo-Catholic character, as well as the High-Church ethos of Grace Parish, have been huge influences on me, in a positive way. I will fondly remember the rector of Grace Church and the parish.

Though I now walk the Roman Road, and leave the Canterbury Trail, I began to realize more and more that this new road is the spiritual road which leads to the Church which founded the Church I am leaving. Everything we have which is beautiful, good, or holy, in Anglicanism, is rooted in, and was founded by, Roman missionaries which were sent by Pope Gregory the Great to ensure the evangelization of the English peoples. St. Augustine of Canterbury, the first Archbishop of that ancient and revered See, is the missionary who was sent to convert the pagan peoples. It is this heritage which we English speaking people, and we Anglicans and converting Anglicans, owe our Christian foundation.

I wish Grace Church, her rector, vestry, and people, the best for the future. I close with this familiar Irish Blessing for Grace Church.

May the road rise up to meet you.May the wind always be at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

2 comments:

Joe said...

Nice post, B. J. God's blessings to you.

Pax.

Joe

Bobby J. Kennedy said...

Thanks Joe!