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“…invisibility, while making God seen”

This has evidently made the rounds a bit, but it was recently read from the pulpit at All Saints. It is from a segment titled “Daily Devotion,” broadcast on Channel 6 in Portland, Maine on 3 May 2010:

We could take a cue from Orthodoxy, whose priests stand with their backs to their congregation, leading liturgy that is neither clever nor impassioned, but simply beautiful, like stone smoothed by centuries of rhythmic tides. It’s an austere ritual, in the sense of — there’s nothing new here; it’s sublime, in the sense of — creating a clearer view into heaven. The priest can be any priest. Who he is, what he looks like, how he speaks, and what he thinks matter little. He hasn’t written the service that he officiates, it isn’t about him or his prowess. He’s an interchangeable functionary draped in brocaded robes, obscured by inscense, and as such, never points to himself, a flawed human, pointing ever and only to the Perfection of the Mysterious Divine. That is the role of every priest or preacher — invisibility, while making God seen.

While I do hate the trope of “the priest with his back to the people” — rather, he’s facing the same way as the people, because he’s worshiping the same God — it is a wonderful quote.

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1 Response to ““…invisibility, while making God seen””


  1. 1 Anna 27 July 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Fr. James had that in our bulletin a few weeks ago and then I shared it with a friend who is at Urbana Theological Seminary.


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