Thirty Years Ago . . .

On this day in 1981, I experienced a defining moment at the Washington National Cathedral.   I was ordained as a transitional Deacon (a necessary step before being ordained a priest) in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.

As many of you know who read this blog, I was privileged to grow up in a family where a vocation to the ordained ministry was modeled by my father, and later by my twin brother Rob.

Brother Geoffery Tristram of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, has described those who share this vocation as “stewards of God’s mysteries,” based on a quote from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, where Paul goes on to say, “It is required of stewards to be found trustworthy.”

At a retreat I attended with Brother Geoffrey several years ago, he offered these good words:


For St. Paul, in some ways the product, if you can call it that, is the mystery of God, and the criterion for successful leadership is not performance but being found trustworthy or faithful. It’s not easy, and it is not correct to apply the criteria of secular leadership to what it is we have been called to.  For if the product is God’s mysteries, and if the criterion of good performance is not successful sales or profit, but being found trustworthy or faithful, what does that mean?  It means we cannot sell God’s mysteries, but we can teach them as merciful revelation, we can celebrate them in the liturgy, we can invoke them as healing and pardon, and we can live them as the deepest meaning of our lives.

Being a “steward of God’s mysteries,” has been a remarkable privilege. I’m astonished by how quickly the time has passed.  So many wonderful friends, colleagues, and the untiring support of my wife Debbie, have made the journey rich and worthwhile.

I promise to go on.


Romance No.1 for Guitar and Orchestra

This past week, I worked on a beautiful composition for guitar and orchestra titled “Romance No.1” by John Brunning.  I came across this piece as performed by the brilliant guitarist, Xuefei Yang, on her recent album, “Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez.”

The orchestral arrangement on the recording provides an evocative harmonic background to the guitar and I decided to arrange it by ear for a midi string ensemble in Logic Studio.  You will also note in the video my first attempt at splicing several clips showing a close up of my right hand (guitarists will appreciate this). On the menu bar, choose 720p for HD video/audio.

The process of recording is a helpful way of practicing for live performance.  It improves concentration and offers a way of identifying sections that need further development.  Sabbatical time and practicing guitar go well together!

Pentecost – Breathing Life Into The World

“Praise the Spirit in Creation, breath of God, life’s origin: Spirit moving on the waters quickening words to life within, source of breath to all things breathing, life in whom all lives begin.” (Hymn 506)

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the third great feast of the church year after Christmas and Easter for which the Church of the Holy Comforter is named. It reenacts the story of a small group of disciples who were still confused and adrift after the death and resurrection of their Lord. All they knew to do was to keep their routines, getting together, waiting, and hoping that God would do something new. They did not have to wait long.

It helps me to think of the Holy Spirit in this way, as God coming to breathe life into our world, into our work and our rest, into the faith we share as a community seeking to make a difference in the world.  I marvel at the myriad number of ways the Holy Spirit animates our life together at Holy Comforter.  It is always inspiring to reflect on the incredible variety of talents and abilities that help make us the unique community that we are.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been easing into my sabbatical and appreciating the open space of time to rest, read, practice guitar repertoire, and visit my mother and brother in Winter Park, Florida.  I managed to fit in a Diocesan ordination and also was called to testify on behalf of the Diocese of Virginia during last week’s property dispute trial in Fairfax Circuit Court.  That’s a story for another time!

Before I left for Sabbatical, I told the Vestry and Staff that I would return for Pentecost Sunday to honor those who are renewing their baptismal vows through confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation.  I also wanted to honor my good friend, David Jones, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Virginia as he makes his last visit to Holy Comforter before retirement.  It should be a wonderful and spirited day.