Every Sunday afternoon, sometime between recording the morning’s attendance in the parish register and preparing for the 5 p.m. service, I find time to pull out the Scripture passages for the following Sunday and read through them for the first time. For a priest, this is akin to that moment just before you tear into the biggest present under the tree on Christmas morning. In that moment of heightened anticipation, you know that under the wrapping paper could be a ski jacket and two tickets to Colorado, or it could be an oversized, scratchy, electric blue sweater hand-knitted by your Great Aunt Betty. I feel the same way about the Scripture lessons. Very many Sundays, I’ll take that first peek and, to be honest, I feel like I’ve been given Aunt Betty’s sweater. Some things just won’t preach. But other weeks—like this week—oh, baby, it’s the ticket to the ski slopes!
Last week you all were kind to allow me to attend the annual North American Deans Conference, that yearly gathering of cathedral deans from the United States and Canada. This year we met in Miami. Dean Doug McCaleb of Trinity Cathedral was a most gracious host, and I had a fantastic time. The collective deans discussed historic churches and the way that beautiful old buildings can still be effective tools for growing the church and spreading the Good News of God in Christ. I love being with my fellow deans. They are a colleague group who understands the particular quirks, challenges, and joys of cathedral ministry. We broke bread together. We prayed together. And for lunch one day, we went on a cruise.