The Rev. Jerry Sather, the former U.S. Air Force chaplain who serves as gracious interim priest in charge at St John Chrysostom Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, welcomed Canon Kathy Hannigan O’Connor and me for a visitation and brunch on Sunday that, frankly, made me feel a little guilty for having so much fun.
Imagine skipping Tuesday morning staff meeting and going to Disneyland. That’s what it felt like to be among old friends and new at the lively, friendly church we served for nearly 12 years. Superstar attorney and former youth group leader Paul Reza was my thoughtful chaplain. Bishop’s warden Paul Hinson was in right good form as usual.
Our theme, if you were in church anywhere Sunday and heard about seven and seven times seven, was forgiveness. It occurred to me that families get forgiveness instinctively. You can’t keep a household, marriage, or partnership together without it. Jesus Christ’s radical notion was that former strangers, now comprising the body of Christ in community, can learn to forgive as readily as siblings who get mad over a borrowed sweater or video game and forget all about it two hours later.
Whether we discover the same capacity as citizens, before our competing national narratives become irreconcilable, is a question that, I’m sure, has our Lord’s constant attention.
Fr. Jerry’s additional gift was asking me to teach a 9 a.m. Christian formation class on the episcopacy. Jesus, of course, didn’t mention it. His would have been a church of servants, which is to say deacons, pouring themselves out for one another. We went over the scriptural antecedents and what the prayer book says, especially the job description in the catechism. Comparing it to my vocation was a revealing exercise. We had fun in class, but I’ll have to wait a little longer for my grade!