Bishops, within the Anglican tradition, carry a big stick called a crosier. It is a stylized shepherd’s crook and is one of the symbols of the bishop’s office and authority. Like many people today, I am not big on authority and never cared much for the crosier. Until, that is, I realized that just like a shepherd’s crook, the purpose of the stick is not to whack unruly sheep (or priests) back in line, but is to be a tool of pulling sheep (or priests) back to safety. The crosier is a symbol of salvation.
There are lots of people who object to
hierarchical names and images for Jesus. And I would no doubt agree if what we
proclaim about Jesus is the same as what is said about hierarchical styles of
leadership. In a very real way Jesus redefines these terms to show what his
purpose is within creation and how he expects us to act.
When we call Jesus by some sort of grand title,
whether Lord, king, shepherd, the new Adam, teacher, Son of God, Son of Man or
the Anointed One, we never forget that his claim for himself was to be a
servant. He turned the whole idea of leadership on its head. True leadership is
expressed in service.
Bishops, priests and deacons within our tradition
were ordained as deacons first. A deacon is a servant of the Church. True
authority within our traditions doesn’t rest in the crosier or with any member
of the clergy. True authority within our tradition is found only with the Holy
Spirit (God’s Holy Spirit). And the Holy Spirit is found in community, that is,
amongst the people. The clergy of our Church are servants.
So, let Christ the King reign in our hearts,
minds, bodies and souls: and in our Church too.