In the Episcopal Church (Our American Church – or should I say Ecclesial Body) today is the commemoration of William White (Bishop of Pennsylvania). Now our great Honourary assistant The Reverend Canon Geoff Dibbs does not need to be reminded of this at all – his is after all not just an American Citizen he winters in the Episcopal Church in Arizona. Now if Geoff were writing this he would probably remind us all that William White was the first, and the fourth Presiding Bishop (American Primate) of ECUSA. Geoff would think it important that we be reminded that while he held a long pastorate at St. Alban’s in London, ON, William White was rector of Christ church and St., peters for 57 years – now that is a long pastorate! Geoff would remind us that he was the only bishop to side with the revolutionaries during the war as the others remained loyal to the Crown. On second thought, given that The Reverend Canon Geoff Dibbs was once the Queen’s Vicar, he may leave this detail of William White’s life aside.  Now truthfully, I suspect that Geoff would not tell you much about this being a feast day for a pioneer of the American Church. I think instead he would tell you about the bigger feast being kept today. – What is that you ask?

Glad you asked! This is the Anniversary of f the Marriage of Geoff and Margaret Dibbs – 59 years ago TODAY!  There are some photos in the photo section of this blog. Most notably – the wedding photo! (What a happy and wonderfully beautiful bride and groom) The other neat photo is of Amanda’s wedding to Larry Kovacic (Another beautiful bride and groom). They are great pictures – be sure to take a look-see. Geoff and Margaret are great people and they have been a wonderful addition to this parish. I believe that the time is drawing nigh that we start campaigning for full time residence on the Canadian side and a short winter vacation to Arizona – we miss them so much when they are not here. You have all heard me sing Geoff praises for his gifts of priesthood – I need not say more about that – his head swells too much! But I will offer my reflection on his tenderness and care for Margaret and her devoting and care for him. Geoff has been a devoted ordained minister for well over 50 years and that has meant a lot of sacrifice for both Margaret and their children. As much as the ongoing gag says that we work one day a week – I know that the devoted clergy are working non-stop – Geoff fits that bill (Wait a minute I have to stop that – the head will be swelling). Margaret you have been a fantastic minister as well. You too, have reflected the light and love of God in your own personal witness, beyond being supportive of Geoff and his ministry. I am so impressed with their tenderness for each other. The words of invocation for marriage in the Book of Alternative services reminds us that “The union of a man and woman in heart, body, and mind is intended for their mutual comfort and help, that they may know each other with delight and tenderness in acts of love [and that they may be blessed in the procreation, care and upbringing of children]. As I reflect on this couple married for 59 years, these words are rolling around in my mid. They have in recent years (as I am certain they have all of their lives) displayed a great ability to be each other’s “mutual comfort and help.” And really who do we know with a better sense of “delight and tenderness.” They are wonderful people who have raised two wonderful children. They have witnessed well the sacrament of marriage. Geoff would have used these words from the Book of Common Prayer 59 years ago – “I Geoff take thee Margaret to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.” Margaret would have used the same words changing the obvious parts. Geoff and Margaret have had theirgood times and bad times, they have enjoyed good health and have faced challenges, they have loved and cherished each other and have been a great witness to the world of marriage. Thank you both for loving each other so well and for witness to all of us God’s love.

In 1948 Madeline L’ Engle was writing books already – perhaps by that time a young Geoff and Maragret may have been reading her work. She has and interesting take on marriage;

 She writes in The Irrational Season "If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation." Geoff and Margaret remind us that marriage is just that – participation. When you hear Margaret talk about Geoff and when you hear Geoff speak of Margaret and their ministry it is clear that Margaret was not just a “clergy wife.” Margaret and Geoff have participated well in being a devoted married couple. Let us all who are married pray that we might look to our husband/wife/spouse and let them know how much we love them and how much they mean to us – let us all delight in the great gift of freedom that comes in being participants in the lives of each other.  

Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple.

The Collect for the commemoration of William white is a fitting prayer with which to end the epistle – as I think we can see the same virtues cited in this prayer to our beloved Geoff and Margaret.

O Lord, in a time of turmoil and confusion you raised up your servant William White, and endowed him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead your Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry your people may be blessed and your will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.