Once upon a time - well, actually it wasn’t once upon a time. It was precisely in 1991. So, in 1991, there was this priest of a particular denomination that would be considered high church. I’m not going to name the denomination. But, here’s a hint. Consider Anglican; now, Americanize it. This priest of that denomination and I bumped up against each other from time in our professional relationship. It was no secret he considered me to be a bit of a bumpkin, a bit too casual with my theological pronouncements, and definitely low church in my liturgical approach.
We did, however, overcome this and minister as colleagues in the ecumenical area that we had in common.
At any rate, in 1991 this priest of that particular denomination was conducting the liturgy at the morning worship service of his parish. It was a large congregation. The services were well attended. And, as such, all the pews were filled that particular Sunday in 1991. But, for the priest of whom I speak, there was a problem.
The problem was he wasn’t particularly fond of women priests. And yet, his associate priest was a woman. I have no idea how that poor woman got into that situation. On the particular Sunday of which I speak this female priest was scheduled to preach. Did I mention the priest of whom I’m speaking did not think females sould be priests? Perhaps that is why he, after sitting in a place that was out-of-sight of the congregation, exited the sanctuary during the female priest's sermon. He proceeded to the area behind the chancel. And there he did this and that until he felt the call of nature.
Feeling the call of nature he entered the restroom just off the chancel. There he proceeded to sit and do what he felt the call to do. His doing was accompanied by appropriate grunts and sighs. Having completed his natural functions, he took care of things, rearraged clothing, and flushed. And then he exited the bathroom and re-entered the chancel and sat in that seat out-of-sight of the congregation.
The female priest, with a smile that extended from earlobe to earlobe, ended her sermon with, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.” She stepped down from the pulpit and took her place in the seat just behind the elevated pulpit with her hand over her mouth as if to mute the convulsions of her body. Into that pulpit the priest of whom I speak stepped. And when he did the congregation gave him a standing ovation.
God, in God’s great humor, had not reminded the priest of whom I speak to turn off his lapel mike when he slipped out of the chancel.