The tears I am encountering this morning are for this bishop, but they are also a resurfacing of grief for a friend and parishioner who died just a month ago. Martha Bennett was a member of one of my churches on the mountain, a deeply committed, fiercely devoted and tirelessly active member of the church whose passion for small churches matched that of Jim Kelsey. Martha was the small church, and she loved it wholeheartedly. She and I worked together for nearly two years as partners in our effort to serve the churches on the mountain in our care. She never failed to tell me that she appreciated me, and was a model of cooperative ministry and teamwork that is too rare in the church. She was also good humored and had a wonderful laugh, offered her hospitality with regularity, and knew when to take things seriously and when to shrug them off. She took delight in reminding me that I was a Yankee, and I never failed to remind her that my ancestors fought for the confederacy. I miss her keenly.
On a larger scale, my grief today is for the whole of our church, who has been robbed of two remarkable people who were models of what it means to live a Christian life in the best sense. They were humble, honest and vulnerable, and weren't afraid of risk or confronting difficulty. If only the world had more people like them.
Here's to Jim and Martha, and to the all the saints who have left us for other shores.