Over the years, there has been an inordinate amount of ink spilt on the significance of first impressions, what I have typically coined as the image of the “shop-front-window.” These impressions and images can leave rather indelible and memorable imprints upon our lives.

Our first encounter of San Joaquin, and I hasten to add impression, was the moment Tracy and I walked through Customs in SF Airport and awaiting us was our Diocesan Chancellor, Michael Glass. Michael acted as chauffeur and tour guide throughout our journey from SF to Fresno. Michael, I wish to say to you and before the readers of this installation of The Friday Reflection, you provided an absolutely wonderful introduction to and impression and image of San Joaquin for us. Thank you.

Upon our arrival in Fresno and following a most welcomed night of sleep, we were greeted by Canon Kate. Kate was immediately warm and welcoming, not-to-mention, exceedingly helpful in the ways in which she offered gentle guidance and counsel and care. Thank you Kate.

We next met Ellen Meyer in the office at St. Paul’s in Modesto and how wonderful it was to attach the voice and written words to the person. Thank you Ellen for the lovely and efficient ways you have prepared for and given attention to our arrival and beginning in SJ.

Our first occasion in the diocese was Pub-Night at St. Anne’s, Stockton. I want to express my appreciation for and congratulations to Rev’d Lyn and everyone who contributed to this stunning event. On the night we experienced much laughter, singing of very familiar songs and we even enjoyed imbibing a good ole English ale or two. What fun it was, thank you Lyn and everyone from St. Anne’s.

Sunday morning was my first “visitation” and said visitation was at St. John the Baptist, Lodi. It would be completely-and-utterly remiss of me if I didn’t say, San Joaquin, you could not have scripted this any better. The welcome and reception and hospitality were, well in a word, extraordinary! Rev’d Elaine, to you and everyone who contributed to this marvelous “first-visitation” experience, many thanks. And thank you to the people of St. John the Baptist for the assortment of wine (Go Lodi!) and the other gifts.

And of course there was Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s in Modesto. The Service of Dedication and Celebration was beautifully crafted and I trust the liturgy reflected the hope and aspirations of The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. To Rev’d Kathleen and to everyone at St. Paul’s, thank you, thank you, three times thank you for the noteworthy day that was.

I also want to seize this opportunity to thank my soon-to-be predecessor Bishop Chet for his generosity and grace in ensuring that this transition is as seamless and healthy as possible. Thank you +Chet. I will endeavor to continue the wonderful work you offered to SJ and Bishop Jerry before you. And I also wish to offer words of appreciation and gratitude to Rev’d Michele and the Standing Committee for the many ways in which you helped us to “Hear what the Spirit was saying to us” as we discerned the possibility of shifting to San Joaquin. Your words of hope, enthusiasm and encouragement certainly made “praying to this point” far easier. Thank you.

So, as far as first impressions and images are concerned, the “shop-front-window” is full of promise. Rich hospitality, genuine care, significant laughter and sincere hope speak well of us and will continue to serve us well and all of God’s People now and in the days before us.

Lastly, in the words of the Presiding Bishop which she expressed to me on Sunday,
“Now, let’s get to work!”

+David Rice

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