Celebrity Blogger Week concludes with wizened and wily Lent Madness veteran, David Sibley. David shepherded the beloved and prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley to the Golden Halo in 2014. Between that and his Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series, we really don’t see why David doesn’t just retire from life, his goals achieved. Nonetheless, we’re glad he plods along and tends to his Lent Madness obligations out of his great charity.
The Rev. David Sibley, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger is in the middle of his seventh year as a southern transplant into the northeast, where he now lives on Long Island and serves as Rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York. Raised right in the middle of South Carolina, David studied and did research as a chemist before being whisked away to seminary in New York City. When he’s not in church, David enjoys travel, hiking and camping, all things food and music related, and is a sports fanatic – with his teams of choice in baseball (Chicago Cubs), college football (South Carolina Gamecocks), and soccer (Liverpool FC) being minor obsessions. David occasionally holds forth on Twitter at @davidsibley.
1. If you could have dinner with any saint, who would it be and what would you serve? (and, duh, why?)
Without a doubt, I’d definitely want to have dinner with Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius’ spirituality is centered in finding God in all things – including the hustle and bustle of everyday life; Ignatius’ methods for prayer do a good job of cutting through the crazy and getting back to the core of what is important in our relationship with God. Some of the most important moments of spiritual growth and some of the best times of discernment in my life have come when I’ve used the methods for prayer, bible study, and decision-making that Ignatius laid out in the Spiritual Exercises. I have a better relationship with God and with Jesus because of Ignatius’ wisdom – so how could I not want to have dinner with him? As to what I would serve – well, with me being from South Carolina, and Ignatius being from Spain, some form of seafood seems like a good commonality. Perhaps paella?
2. What hymn would you pay money never to hear again? And which hymn are you convinced is on the play list in heaven?
Hands down, without a doubt, I have no reason or desire to hear “Earth and All Stars” again. One of the verses of the hymn speaks about “classrooms and labs, [and] loud boiling test tubes.” My undergraduate major was in Chemistry, and, before seminary, I also completed a masters’ degree in the same topic. I must have spent thousands of hours in the labs. One sound I never heard? A loud boiling test tube. (For one thing, boils generally aren’t loud; for a second, we didn’t use test tubes). So for the couple of lines of “fake news” in the hymn, “Earth and All Stars” gets a hard pass from me.
Nobody will ever be able to convince me that “Love divine, all loves excelling” is not on the playlist in heaven. Personally, it’s a hymn that’s been a part of two of the most transformative moments of my life – when I married my wife and when I was ordained a priest. Charles Wesley’s lyrics never fail to bring me to tears, and while I put no stake on the proper tune for his lyrics, I need this hymn to be part of the heavenly playlist.
3. You’re busy during Lent. Why do you make time for the Saintly Smackdown? What do you get out of it personally?
One of the things I know to be true about myself is that I need anchors in my life that help me slow down, look around, and take stock of where I am in my relationship with God. Lent is always one of those anchors for me – it sets things back in order, reminds me of God’s abiding love for me in the midst of my own brokenness, helps me recall my own need to accept grace as the free gift from God that it is, and lets me recommit to living anew into my baptismal promises. Lent Madness is a light hearted and fun Lenten discipline, but I find that meeting the saints anew every year during Lent helps connect me to the call to discipleship. I get to see over and over how ordinary women and men responded in faith to the call of God in their own day, and that helps me slow down – and it reminds me that I can respond to God, not necessarily as the person I think I need to be, but just as I am right now. That’s time well spent.