The Procession of the Holy Spirt (Part Three)

The past several weeks have been bleak indeed for BC’s home parish of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion. In keeping with his avowal to speak unless things are perfectly unspeakable, BC has kept silent in the face of desultory goings-on here, there, and, it would seem, everywhere, but is at last compelled to offer what small commentary he can muster without aggravating his spleen condition unduly.

You have no doubt heard the reports of our St. Euphemesius Day observance, gleefully dubbed “The Saint’s Day Melee” by the local punditry. As BC noted previously, just as the annual procession was to commence, alarming rumours of a lurking bishop ran wild amongst the assembled saints.

BC was called upon to investigate and, as he drew near, encountered a knot of Christians loudly demanding to know whether a rather florid-faced middle-aged gentleman was “Windsor-compliant” while an equally vociferous contingent speculated angrily that he was an emissary from the Church of Nigeria seeking to lay forcible claim to our crumbling Gothic Revival pile of a sanctuary. Our rector, the Reverend Dr Hammond Burton-Coggles, hurriedly commenced a disquisition on the historic episcopate and its multitudinous local adaptations in methods of administration, attempting to lull the fractious faithful into somnolence.

Though an astute reckoning by a shepherd knowing well his flock, dear Dr. Burton-Coggles failed to factor in the widespread reversion to primatal behavior – and, no, BC is not referring to Lambethian shenanigans, though he wholly appreciates any possible confusion – evinced by Episcopalians in the presence of a purple shirt. Later, the good rector remarked to BC that a homily on tithing would have no doubt dispersed the congregants, but thought that rather strong medicine indeed.

Though BC wielding a stout verge caused a slight falter in the hubbub, it was a heroic thurifer who prevented further precipitation of feces flinging – BC speaks here metaphorically, but just barely – amongst the faithful. Arcing his orb robustly, he cleared a swath in front of the beleaguered bishop, scattering one faction who simply wished to avoid a solid drubbing, another who found the deed smacked of popery and retreated to find a scriptural proof text to buttress their queasiness, and a third group – led by Ms. Laeticia York of the Peace and Social Justice Committee – who huddled to craft a resolution condemning an appalling lack of inclusivity for the scent-sensitive. A bruised crucifier painfully picked up the pieces of the processional cross shattered in the melee.

Though the immediate uproar was quelled, bickering and backbiting continued to ripple through the assembly and soon the saints fell to fighting for reasons most could not fully enunciate when queried, only observing pointedly that their co-disputants were clearly not possessed of the faith once delivered to the Ecclesia Anglicana and its offspring. The arrival of the local gendarmerie and a television camera crew ended any hope of the procession proceeding, although a small, but significant coterie queued to provide the proffered microphone their learned analysis of the situation in thoughtful, nuanced manner that was edited for public presentation down to a four-word blip unrelated to any actual comments uttered.

“What the hell is an Episcopalian?” BC heard one mediamonger muttering, to which a bored cop standing by replied, “They’re like Catholics, only with fewer kids and more masters degrees.”

Hell, indeed, avers BC.

It was somewhat anti-climatic to discover that the proximate target of all this disquietude was not a bishop at all, but merely an innocent bystander wearing a white turtleneck with a purple crewneck pullover who claimed no church affiliation whatsoever.

This pricked the ears of several loitering evangelicals who sought to lead him to knowledge of his utter depravity and bring him to a moment of decision, but to no avail. He seemed relieved when the secular authorities swooped in to disengage him from the erstwhile soulwinners, who muttered darkly about godless government persecution of the faithful. Missing the details, but catching the general tenor of dissatisfaction with police activity, Ms. Laeticia York lay down in front of the squad car singing “We Shall Overcome” and demanding to be arrested. The bored cop closed his notebook, slid behind the wheel, backed up the cruiser, and drove off smoothly, leaving Laeticia lying in place, unnoticed by anyone as the crowd slunk away.

It remains to be seen whether the procession will continue in the coming year. The Reverend Dr. Burton-Coggles believes much study and discussion is warranted. BC is told senior warden Augustus Seabury “Buzz” Lancaster has convened a committee to plan for an alternate procession to replace the current one, which in his estimation, has grown scandalously lax. Most members of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway just hope things might go on as before, but know in their heart of hearts it is unlikely to do so.

All this makes for a perplexing new year, but BC simply sighs and fervently prays that the Light hinted at in Advent and glimmering forth at the Feast of the Nativity has waxed radiant in your lives this Christmastide and, as Epiphany draws near, that the luminous gift of the Incarnate Word fully shine in and through each one of us to a world dark and yearning for redemption.

Pray for me, a sinner. And stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.