This morning at Hope Episcopal Church we had a visit from our newest Bishop Suffragan, the Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher. For those not up on our “episco-speak” code, a Bishop Suffragan is an assistant bishop , analogous to what our Roman Catholic brethren and sistren would call an auxiliary bishop.
Bishop Fisher was at Hope church for a confirmation, and this was my first exposure to him. After the last decade and more, I am suspicious of our house of bishops; I do not know him, but I know something of his background, and from whence he comes. I should be at peace trusting him, but sadly, at least for me all of our bishops are suspect until proven sound.
Happily, in one small act, Bp. Fisher won me over.
I listened closely to his sermon, which was fine, but not exactly St. Peter on the day of Pentecost. It could have been preached (and received) equally well whether or not a person was passionate for the gospel of Christ. I would have been more comfortable with it if I knew better where his heart was, first. But it was fine. However, he won me over.
At the administration of Communion, we receive at a rail, usually kneeling. The Bishop distributed the host, the Bread. As I awaited my turn, I noticed there were two or three young children, (6-8 years old perhaps?) waiting at the rail; perhaps to receive, or perhaps to receive a blessing –at their ages it could have been either – When Bp. Fisher came to them, instead of reaching down to bless them, or place the bread in their hands, he got down on his knees so he could look them in the eyes when he ministered to them.
In that action, he proved to me better than by any theological exposition that he really understood the Incarnation, that he understood how God CAME DOWN to us, to look us in the eyes as He dwelt among us. It is one thing to receive a Word (or a wafer) from “on high.” But God, and the good bishop, laid aside his prerogatives (The Bible says “He emptied himself of his glory”) so that we could look into His eyes, and see His love, and see what He did and does.
Bp. Fisher, by his deed, and his carriage towards “the least of these” showed more of the gospel than perhaps his words in a sermon ever could.
May I (and all of us) remember how much more our deeds say than do our words!