(my letter to the Cathedral Parish of St. Philip, 4 June 2012)
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you to so many people who were at church this past Sunday, and to so many others who have written, mostly to say they support me, and also to ask the simple question, “How are you doing?” I offered myself for election as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta this past Saturday, and I was not elected. A good man, my friend Rob Wright, was elected; and I pray the best for him. In fact, we all pray for him in the days ahead, and for Bishop Neil Alexander, who remains Bishop of Atlanta until October.
The Diocese of Atlanta takes a breather now, after the scurrying about and the election itself a few days ago, June 2, 2012. God willing, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Indianapolis during July 3-13, will give formal consent to Rob’s election; and Rob will begin to make the transition from being rector of St. Paul’s Church, Atlanta, to being Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta. Plans will gradually develop; and, on Saturday, October 13, 2012, the grand ordination service will take place, again, at the Cathedral of St. Philip.
This past Sunday, Trinity Sunday, you heard me answer the question, “How are you?” But my answer bears repeating: I am actually quite happy, even excited. I feel, in a way, that I have gotten my life back. I was certainly willing to be Bishop of Atlanta, and willing to forge a new life in that role. But I am quite happy to live back into my present role and to renew my life as Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip. It is truly one of the great vocations in the Church, and it is definitely a lot of fun.
So, I have gotten a lot of things back. I was willing to give them up, but God has returned them to me, perhaps consecrated again, in a special and renewing way. I am blessed by that; I am truly blessed.
Please read, or listen to, the sermon I delivered on Trinity Sunday (see here), where I described my life in Christ as having being blown by the wind of the Holy Spirit. I hope to have been carried on the wings of the wind in my life, and—so far—that has been wonderful for me. The wind invited me to offer my candidacy, and now the wind has blown me back home again; I am home, with people I love and with a community I love.
I posted the same sermon on my blog (see here). But I have also posted the sermon I delivered on May 20, 2012, titled “Barsabbas and Matthias: The Patron Saints of Elections” (see here). That sermon, about “leadership as loss,” was very important for me as I prayed my way through this election process. I will certainly develop that theme in the days and years ahead.
Finally, once again: Thank you. Thank you again. Thanks for holding me in prayer, and thanks for checking in with me. Thank you for letting me be born again with you. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it. But you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of Spirit.” Let’s be born again together! (Or as Harry Chapin sang in “All My Life’s A Circle:” Our love is like a circle, let’s go around one more time.) God bless you!