Even so, there are two most delightful details in little Matt’s harrowing account of how he, as an example to responsible fathers everywhere, placed his own homophobia ahead of his children’s need for security and a warm roof over their heads. The first is a heart-rending recollection of his last Eucharist:
“After Communion and the blessing, we stripped the altar, deconsecrated it, emptied the ambry (yes we had one), and blew out the tabernacle candle.”It’s the sheer poetic modesty of this sentence that brings tears to my rheumy old righteous eyes. The humble recognition that the altar could only remain consecrated if he were its senior presiding minister. The clear understanding of how an Episcopal church fitting, constructed by Episcopalians for use in Episcopalian worship, and legally the property of Episcopalians, could only function in a sacred capacity if used by a former Episcopalian – the ex-Rev. Matt – as part of an anti-Episcopalian schism. Without him the altar ceased to be capable of the service for which it was consecrated, and as such he had no choice but to recognize that liturgically. Talk about a servant’s heart!
The second detail is almost as beautiful:
“…all of the things that had been a part and parcel of our community life for more than a century had to stay.”I must confess to having had no idea that little Matt had been there that long; his youthful visage certainly doesn’t betray him as a man of at least 130 years old. Whatever elixir Hostilium has been slipping him certainly works wonders. It would have been wiser, however, for them to have shared a little of the wondrous potion with church stalwarts of years gone past. A couple of 19th century wardens explaining that they weren’t part of the Episcopalian church at all, but were actually Kenyans joining a sect run by a defrocked bishop in Pittsburgh would have been all that was needed to swing the Judge’s finding in little Matt’s favor.
Lastly, I still can’t for the life of me understand why, as a fellow Calvinist, little Peter Jensen didn’t immediately offer refuge to Matt and his tribe. Surely Hostillium’s gifts as a preacher would have been more than welcome in Sydney, and the Family Firm would have loved for Matt to bring his chasuble and ambry. Perhaps Dobby or one of the other house-elves regularly lurking here could explain things for us?
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.