The first time I met the Rev. Ed Salmon, he was ordaining a friend of mine at All Saints, Chevy Chase. I was immediately struck by just how much he felt like a bishop. He was open-hearted, generous, and incredibly Southern.

Later I came to realize that he had either worked with or had a major impact on many of the Episcopal clergy who I know and love. Years ago, when one of my friends came into the Diocese of South Carolina as a newly ordained priest, Bishop Salmon told him, “In the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina we are not confused about who Jesus is.”  I wrote this down on a post it note and it lives on the edge of my computer screen. It is my Ed Salmon heresy shield.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him. Even in his last years of life, he would generously mentor young clergy and ask us what we thought of the church. I remember being worried about whether or I would have the right responses for any questions he might ask.

I should not have been so concerned. We talked at great length about Mississippi. We are both from there. This is customary when Mississippians meet, “What is your mother’s maiden name? Do you know the so-and-so family?”

He also asked me numerous questions about my children. Because good bishops ordain women clergy, but great bishops remember that their first calling is to the babies that call them “Mama.” Our daughter was very small at that point and he commented on how wise it was for me to be part time. Honestly, I was grateful for his wisdom.

I write about Bishop Salmon because the one year anniversary of his death is approaching and because even from heaven side, he is faithfully serving the church. Whenever my work feels lonely or pointless or tiresome, I return to a few places for comfort: 1 John 4:19, Capon, Luther, Tyng, Rutledge, and now Salmon.

Last week his daughter, Catherine Salmon, shared a wonderful sermon with me that he preached at an ordination four years ago. In it, he offers a charge for the priests-to-be and lays out exactly what the ministry consists of. With permission from Catherine, I wanted to share it as a word of encouragement and solace.

Let me charge you, as priests of the Church: The good news is that God is not going to expect you save anything. He’s not going to try to build the world on your shoulders, but he offers you the high privilege of a relationship with the living God in the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. To know profoundly your whole life long how deeply God loves you and, in that grace and in that love, to be able to give that love to others. That is the foundation of all priesthood. And in the ministry, you will find amazing ways to demonstrate that.

Just yesterday, I went out for lunch. When I got to Forest Park, there’s usually a homeless man or two standing there, and there was this terribly disheveled man standing there with his sign, “I’m homeless.” And of course, he was going by the cars, and nobody looked at him. He got to my car, and I rolled down the window, and I said, “I don’t have any money with me, but my wife is going to take me to the airport in about an hour and a half, and I’ll have something for you then. And do you know what he said to me? He said, “Thank you for looking at me.” Didn’t say a word about money. He said, “Thank you for looking at me.”

You see, the Good Shepherd is raising you up so that the world you minister to can look at you and say, “Thank you for looking at me, because in that, I see the glory of God.”

The ministry is not what we do. It is what God does with us. And we are so shockingly fortunate to be the ones who see God’s beloved children for who we all really are. Longing to be love. Longing to be seen. Longing to see the Glory of God.

The Sermon from PIV Media on Vimeo.