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Chasubles and Tee Shirts

2012 October 12
by Gordon Reid

On Sunday, I was in church at the opening of our vestments exhibition “Liturgy and Lace” while my Curate was in Center City in a booth at “Outfest” the gay festival. St Clement’s has taken  part in this festival for several years, and a good many of our members have helped staff the church stall, but this year was different. Fr Ethan wore his clerical collar, and all the helpers had special tee shirts with “St Clement’s Church” on the front, and the slogan “Worship like it was 1099″! on the back. We had several hundred rosaries in a big basket, and Fr Ethan reports that he blessed over 200 of them, using the recipient’s name, and gave them to them. I have heard from others that it was an extraordinary time of grace, when young gay people who had been rejected by their own churches found a priest and a church that welcomed them and assured them of the love of Jesus and his blessed Mother. There were tears and happy faces mingled.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was presiding over an exhibit of glorious silks, brocades and needlework in wonderful vestments, fine chalices and monstrances, unique illuminated missals etc. All were gifts or acquisitions of past parishioners and clergy of St Clement’s. And the exhibit has been received with a mighty “Wow factor” in many of the visitors. The more instructed have talked about “the beauty of holiness”, and others have said things like “This shows that people cared for their church by giving or making these beautiful things”.

I have thought about the chance coincidence of these two events and how our two priests were doing quite different things at the same time, and I have concluded that we were doing exactly  the same thing, the thing we were ordained to do – preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The old Rector was welcoming people of all sorts to the church, which was full of traditional organ music, vestments, statues, pews, altars, etc. I was answering questions both learned and incredibly simple. I was trying to show that in St Clement’s we have a special beauty which exists not for itself but so that people may get to know God through his Son, who became flesh and thus blessed all creation, reaffirming his earlier judgement (in Genesis) that it was all “very good”. I was hoping that some would be touched by some of the outward expressions of our faith and return to learn more of its inward meaning.

Meanwhile, down on 13th Street, the young Curate was doing much the same. He was assuring people that there was a Church which accepted them as God made them and that they were loved by God as a father loves his children. The fact that many of them were gay and had been rejected by other churches made them suspicious of all Christians. And this was reinforced by the hateful bunch of evangelical protesters who shouted through megaphones that they would all burn in hell! Our church, and other Episcopal churches present at the street festival, was trying to show them that God had made them gay and that their faithful loving unions could be blessed.

No doubt both Fr Ethan and I failed to get the entire Good News of Jesus Christ through to most of the people we talked to. But if even a few people are helped in their sometimes difficult pilgrimage by our seemingly very different activities, “Liturgy and Lace” and “Outfest”, we will not have been wasting our time.


13 Responses leave one →
  1. Fr. David Harrison permalink
    October 12, 2012

    Beautifully put. Thank you.

  2. David O'Rourke permalink
    October 13, 2012

    This was alright until Fr. Reid said that same sex unions can be blessed. I’m afraid this cannot be done without rejecting Judaeo-Christian morality as the Church has received it and embracing the secular morality of our times.

    In his response, above, Fr. David Harrison says, “Beautifully put” to which I would add, “but morally wrong.”

    • Jeff Ezell permalink
      October 13, 2012

      David, how small and anthropomorphic your view of God would seem to be!

  3. Stephen permalink
    October 13, 2012

    My Partner and I attend a Traditional Latin Mass. We LOVE it! But the price we pay is sometimes having to sit through sermons about “protecting marriage” and rantings coming very close to telling us how we must vote in the upcoming presidential election. Against this backdrop, I’m sure you can see why reading this post was a drink of refreshing water! and I truly thank you for it, Father Reid! God Bless you and your Curate! We’d love to attend Mass at St Clement’s again someday and meet you both.

  4. Bill Shedden permalink
    October 13, 2012

    A wonderful note as always, Father!!! Though I’m not gay, I think that St. Clements participating in the gay gestival was a truly Christian thing to do and my wife of nearly twenty years totally agrees. God is Love and whether it’s between a man and a woman, two men or two women, true love is a one of the Blessings of the Lord.

    Do you by any chance have any of those tee ashirts that you wrote of left over? If you do, please let me know at your convenience what sizes you have available and if we can find one that fits, I’ll send you a check made out to St. Clements or whatever. By the by, I’m writing to you from Liverpool, NY (near Syracuse) and I greatly miss the worship at St. Clements. Here in the Central New York diocese, we only have one truly Anglo-Catholic parish.

    Thanks for reading this and please know that you, your Curate and all at your lovely parish are in my daily prayers.

    Bill Shedden

  5. Gary (NJ) permalink
    October 15, 2012

    David, are you aware that the early Christian Church *did* bless same gendered unions? Here is a link to the history of it:

    I also read an article recently (I believe it was on the Episcopal Cafe) by a theologian who said that there are extant several copies of the earliest versions of the Gospels where in the story of Jesus healing the centurion’s (slave/servant) the Greek word used for the slave meant something more like what we would call a ‘boyfriend’ today. Christ loved, healed, and INCLUDED everyone. We should too.

  6. David O'Rourke permalink
    October 16, 2012

    Jeff, my God is great enough that he is not bound by what you, or I for that matter, might want Him to think or do. You may feel that it would be appropriaae for God to approve of same sex relations but God’s ways are not our ways neither are God’thoughts our thoughts as we read in Genesis.

    • Jeff Ezell permalink
      November 1, 2012

      My view of God is not of a primitive sky deity who “approves” and “disapproves” things in an anthropomorphic way. Indeed your use of the the verb “approve” in reference to the Deity seems to me to merely verify my original characterisation of your limited views of a Deity who is Prime Mover, Original Cause and Ground of Being, and who is in no way bound into the narrow confines of the sacred scriptures either of ancient Israel or of any other religion.

  7. David O'Rourke permalink
    October 16, 2012

    Gary, I have read that page before and others like it in support of various causes. There is little if any context e.g. was this considered the norm or was this simply some more or less local aberation? Was this done by heretical sects like the Gnostics. If it was the norm how and why did it cease to be the norm? Obviously it is not part of the tradition we have received from the time of theApostles. If it merits any credence whatsoeve Why is it not produced as evidence by any scholars or by liberal Churches like The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.?

    These fragments, some big and some small pop up all thetime. The latest is one wherein Christ purportedly refers to His wife.

  8. October 24, 2012

    wonderful, fr.!! from what i have read from his blog, and yours, you picked a hell of a curate!, st. clem’s is in good hands. yall are truly living the words “not only with our lips, but with our lives.”

  9. October 24, 2012

    This was a very interesting article (link below) from a professor who participated in one of the rites of blessing that Professor John Boswell describes in his book, referenced by Gary.

  10. Sub Deacon Angus Kirk permalink
    October 28, 2012

    Very well put Rev Can Ried
    I can see much discusion around the subject of gay mariage, im not going to post my opinion. But all I can say is very well put excelent reading, God Bless

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