This afternoon, my mum and I attended the Episcopal Ordination (Consecration) of Bishop-Elect Reverend Justin Duckworth (previously blogged about here) and his Installation (Enthronement) as the 11th Bishop of Wellington at St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington.
It was a spectacular occasion. More funny hats than you can shake a stick at. The stick, on this occasion, being the impressive Pastoral Staff, shaped and carved (out of matai) by Huitau te Hau. Justin recounted that he had received the Pastoral Staff the previous morning, at Rimutaka Prison. It was gifted with a message, viz., “Remember who you serve,” or words to that effect.
It was a joyous occasion, but also a serious one. The seriousness of the occasion was evidenced by one of the three readings, viz., John 21:15-19.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
The part of the service that impressed me most occurred shortly after the ordination and installation of the new bishop. Justin was greeted, welcomed, and his wife Jenny was presented with flowers, and then (from the event programme)
Bishop Justin responds and then symbolically washes the feet of three members of the Diocese.
That’s right. His first significant act as Bishop was to kneel before those whom he has been appointed to serve, and wash their feet. This is true humility. Being a libertarian, I could not help but be reminded of Matthew 20:25-28 (also Mark 10:42-45).
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
If I had my way, every session of Parliament would begin in a like manner, with every Member of Parliament washing the feet of one of their electorate constituents. Just to remind the bastards who they’re there to serve.