From the Gospel lesson for Thursday in the week of Proper 7b (Pentecost 4, 2015)
25 [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.
26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.”
Within the next couple of days the Episcopal Church will have a new Presiding Bishop. Yesterday we had something akin to a group job interview in which the four nominees sat on the dais of the House of Deputies and answered questions posed by members of the Joint Nominating Committee speaking on behalf of the church. It was also somewhat like a beauty contest; anyone who has been through an episcopal election as candidate, elector, search committee member, or member of an electing diocese is familiar with the metaphor and the form. The four candidates are all men; one is black, the rest white. All are distinguished churchmen of middle age; the youngest is 56, the eldest 64 (there was plenty of grey hair on that platform). They all had lovely things to say; each said something I could whoop and holler about; each said something that made me unhappy. What none of them said was, “I will become like the youngest;” what none of them said was, “I will be like one who serves.” ~ One of the things I’ve noticed about this General Convention is the number of young deputies. My son and daughter-in-law (who are in their early thirties and late twenties) who are both deputies have many, many colleagues among those who are now governing our church. None of them, of course, is qualified by our canons to become Presiding Bishop. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like if one of them were to take the helm. How might this church be different if our leadership truly were like these, the youngest who serve among us? ~ I wish the new Presiding Bishop well. Whichever one of these distinguished bishops is chosen to serve, he will be in my daily prayers, one of which will be, “May he be like the youngest, and like one who serves.”