by Bob Wickizer

Transfiguration. Baptism.
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Exodus 24:12, 15-18; Psalm 99; selections from Corinthians 1 and 2; Matthew 17:1-9
Last Epiphany
10 February 2002

For those of you who were not present at last week's annual meeting I must first tell you that the meeting ended more like a family feud than a church meeting. If you could ever claim that St. Philip's and its new rector enjoyed a honeymoon, it ended last Sunday. One of the newest members of St. Philip's, our sexton, James Hall had asked me earlier in the week if he could become a member of St. Philip's and of course I agreed. Then Sunday after the annual meeting during which James had been present, I asked him, "Now that you have seen the fireworks and arguments of this congregation, do you still want to be a member?" James immediately replied in his matter of fact truthful way. "All the more. Now I see that St. Philip's is normal just like everybody else."

Like any significant conflict, last Sunday resulted from a long history of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, missed communications, assumptions, suspicion and divisiveness. Like any conflict both sides made identical claims about the other side. Both sides had victimized themselves. Both sides had dehumanized the "other." And the "he said, she said" rumor mill of discontent stoked up like a locomotive going uphill.

Into this fracas steps your new rector. Expectations are high. After a few months of chaos this long expected future fails to materialize. Hopes are dimmed and questions are raised. "Does he tell one group one thing and another something else?" they ask. "Does he tell folks just what they want to hear? Does he cave in to the squeaky wheel just to appease one side at the expense of the majority? What kind of leader is this guy?"

Lines are drawn and sides are taken. Different factions begin to feel victimized. Secrets take shape ... secrets like, "We have serious financial challenges." "The ves ...

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