Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Episcopal Church »  |  The Diocese of Virginia

November 4, 2022

Sisters and Brothers,

Sarah Huggins and I were standing at the door to the Nave. I was wearing a clerical shirt and collar. The kid was there with his mother picking out clothes for their household. He walks up to us and asks Sarah, “do you work here?” “Well no, I go here,’ she replied, looking at me a little puzzled. The kid, looking into the Nave, asks Sarah, “what do you do in there?” His mother, a little embarrassed, says, “It’s a church. You’ve been to church.” “I’ve never been to a church that looks like that. What do you do in there?” His mother awkwardly whisked him away. Sarah looked at me and says, “That’ll preach.” Yes, that’ll preach.

 I think about the kid’s utterly innocent curiosity and lack of familiarity. The priest, dressed like a priest, is standing right there, and the kid doesn’t ask the priest. Did he know I am a priest or was I just some guy wearing a funny looking shirt? His question about “working” at church – priest or not - has really deep implications that we will explore another time. Why didn’t it look like a church? Had he never scene a vested altar before? Was it the rafters and windows? But, “what do you do in there?” That question is the one that sticks because he asked it with such a sense of wonder.

 What DO we do in there? Well, we do a lot of the things. We stand, sit, kneel, sing, read, listen, recite, respond, approach, receive, taste, and then we go forth. Each of these “things that we do” is in part a way we use our bodies and souls to reach toward God. Worship is full of these simple physical acts, most of which, we do every day in other settings and for other reasons. Worship is “what we do in there,” and for those simple, physical acts to become worship, it takes our intentional choice to participate in the communal project of approaching God and receiving grace. When we make that intentional choice the “things we do” become praising, praying, confessing, being forgiven, listening for God, giving thanks, being fed, remembering, loving and being loved, going forth into the world to serve and preach. I hope that each of you will experience some portion of that kid’s curiosity and wonder when you walk into the Nave. I hope that you will take that curiosity and wonder to heart and have his simple question create an imperative in you. What we do is wonderful and what we do, to be as full as it can be, needs your fullest intentional participation.

 I’ll see you Sunday, having had an extra hour of sleep, ready to revel in the wonder of worship that happens among you under rafters and framed by woods through the windows.

 Peace,

 Michael