When is a door not a door? ...when it's ajar!
When is a car not a car? ...when it turns into the driveway!
Anyway, these corny jokes, which I find painfully easy to remember, came to mind today as I was thinking about sacraments ("outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace").
Someone said to me after our great Celebration of New Ministry last night, "I loved the gifts that were given. They were so real. Not just mystical, but stuff we really use." In case you missed it, the bishop handed me water, and parishioners handed me a Bible, stole, Prayer Book, and keys, and I handed to parishioners a pair of sneakers and a cell phone. And as we passed these, we prayed that they would remind us of the holy power of the stuff we're doing every day here; splashing water, praying, reading, going out to coffee or a hospital room, throwing the doors open.
When are sneakers more than sneakers? ...when they carry the feet of Christ (our feet) to a neighbor!
When is a cell phone more than a cell phone? ...When it carries the voice and words of love!
The objects that we handed back and forth last night, even the "churchy" ones, are pretty normal things; basically a pitcher, some books, and a scarf, plus the ubiquitous keys, sneakers and cell phone. But in a moment of prayer and care-fulness we allowed them to bind us together inwardly, to awaken hopes, to fulfill God's promises. We allowed them to become sacramental.
Thank God for imbuing all we touch and see with such astonishing potential. Every pen and doorway and frosty wind laden with grace, if we will give a moment of prayer and care-fulness to let their potential come alive in our common life.
Today I'm paying extra attention to letting my actions with keys, phone, pitcher, and everything stay sacramental; stay alive as signs of fluid, active grace. It's been challenging, and a lot of fun, as though I were steadily trying to watch one of those 3D pictures pop out of its page while simultaneously going about my day. Sacraments make the world that crazy and wonderful kind of place.
I look forward to much more of this challenging fun, and much more discovering God-with-us, Emmanuel, in all the days ahead. It's good to be with you.