On Sunday we had another unique celebration that only happens with a new bishop – the Seating of a Bishop. It is a special service that takes place at the Cathedral. In the early years of the Church a bishop, like a rabbi, would sit to give instruction and teaching. It was a mark of honor for the teaching authority of the leader. That chair for teaching came to be called the bishop’s “cathedra” and the worship structure that housed it is called a “cathedral”.
I am grateful for the opportunity to teach – it is one of my favorite roles. In the same manner, I love to learn and am curious about a wide range of ideas, from church history to what good quality computer coding looks like. Those who teach us shape us and in a very positive way they leave their mark on us.
When a bishop knocks on the door of the cathedral with their staff (crozier) at the beginning of the seating service, there is often a scuff mark left on the wood. However, neither that, nor the teaching office of a bishop (no matter how valuable) are the primary mark of the church on the world. The sign of the cross on the forehead of each baptized person is the most significant mark we have. And the conversion of life it represents is not our doing, but the grace of God at work in us through Jesus Christ.
Under all of the beauty, symbolism and polity of this past weekend is a deeper treasure: we each carry the ability to make a significant mark on the world. It walks in with us into every office, soup kitchen, school, and state park we visit. A life powered by Jesus and marked by forgiving and self-giving love brings change to the people around us in practical ways. We volunteer at the church that offers showers to the homeless, we garden for the hungry and tutor at our local schools. We do not let go of hope or Jesus.
What other kind of mark could a bishop hope to witness in her diocese?