On Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts will gather to consecrate the Rev. Alan Gates as our new bishop. There's great excitement about this, especially at my parish since Father-soon-to-be-Bishop Gates served as our curate from 1987-1990. And, yes, I've already told him that if things don't work out, he can have his old job back.
This will only be the second consecration I've ever attended. In 1998 when our seminary dean, Mark Sisk, was elected Bishop of New York a rag-tag group of us seminarians from Seabury-Western in Evanston, Illinois, flew east for the festivities. We were thrilled to be included in the procession and it was surreal to see someone we had grown close to be made a bishop in front of over 3,000 people packed into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Of course they stuck us in the back of the (very long) procession and by the time we got to our seats, I'm pretty sure the service was about half over.
Since there's no Episcopal institution in Boston that could possibly hold thousands of rabid church goers, the consecration will be held at Boston University's Agganis Arena. Some people think it's unfortunate we can't hold this in an actual church but as Americans we've been "worshipping" in sports arenas for generations so what's the big deal? Plus this is the closest thing we have to channeling Joel Osteen so I suggest we just sit back, relax, and pretend we're relevant enough to have a mega church.
But I digress. What I really wanted to do was be of service to the throngs attending the upcoming consecration. Thus, I've created a Consecration Packing List to make the day more meaningful for everyone involved.
1. Smart Phone. This is so obvious, I almost didn't list it. The only question is what will run out first, your battery or the communion wine.
2. Snacks. Face it, folks, this is going to take awhile. Since Dominoes likely won't deliver during the
3. Flask. Just in case there's liturgical dance.
4. Red Spray Paint. Despite all the announcements you know there will be several priests who show up wearing white stoles instead of red ones. A quick spray and the problem is taken care of.
5. Oxygen Tank. Just in case you get stuck in the nose bleed seats.
6. Drone. Since it will be hard to see the actual laying on of hands with the expected 28 bishops in attendance, your camera-equipped drone will give you the perfect bird's-eye view.
7. Communion Wafers. If they run out you can always consecrate your own and hand them out to everybody in your section. You'll be as popular as the Phillie Phanatic at Veterans Stadium (there will be a mascot at this thing, right?)
9. Extra Tickets. Yes, they are issuing (free) tickets for this extravaganza. Plan on bringing extras to scalp thereby eliminating the need for your fall stewardship campaign.
10. Gratitude. Be thankful that you're not in charge of pulling this off. Or that you were elected bishop.
If you are interested in watching the live webcast of the consecration, you can click here on Saturday starting at 10:30 am. Or you can follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #diomass (at least until our phones die).
In the meantime, please keep Bishop-elect Gates and his wife Tricia in your prayers. It's a big job with a multitude of often conflicting expectations, hopes, and dreams from the various constituencies across the diocese. Yet it's also one with great opportunity to inspire a generation of faithful Christians. May the mantle of leadership be a good fit for all involved.