The Bishop is Coming! The Bishop is Coming!

bishop-chessYes, it’s true. Bishop Cathy Roskam is coming to All Saints’ this Sunday to make an official visitation on behalf of the Diocese of New York. The 200+ parishes in the diocese get a bishop once every two years and we were due.

Officially, she will meet with the Vestry, examine our parish register, and do Confirmations. But beyond the canonical duties, episcopal visitations remind us of our connection to something bigger than our individual congregations. While we live out our lives as disciples of the risen Christ in a particular parochial context, we are also part of something that transcends the bounds of the parish community. Namely: the Diocese of New York, the national Episcopal Church, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the communion of saints that encompasses all the saints and angels and faithful departed who have ever walked the path of Jesus.

While larger parishes (and there are a bunch of them in New York) tend to get bishops on big liturgical days like Pentecost and All Saints’, smaller congregations get them on lesser days like the 5th Sunday in Lent (this year) or the Sunday after Easter (two years ago). I’m not complaining since this makes intuitive sense but it’s harder to have a big celebration at the end of Lent (Woo hoo the bishop’s here! Let’s get penitential!).

I’m lucky to have served in dioceses (Maryland and New York) with great bishops. Because, let’s face it, visitations have the potential to be pretty awkward. The rector plays host but it’s also a bit like having the boss to dinner — with the boss making the meal and helping to serve it.

When I was in seminary in Chicago the Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, had a lousy reputation among parish clergy. Granted he had to succeed the late and exceedingly popular Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. But he developed the nickname “Francis the Corrector” for his penchant to correct the smallest liturgical detail at the parishes he visited. I can’t imagine the clergy looked forward to his visits a whole lot.

I am looking forward to an exciting Sunday morning and, anyway, I did get a break from writing a sermon this week.


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