I am tired. Or as Ace Reed might have written in his classic dictionaries of Texan English , “Ah am tard. T.A.R.D.” Not to be confused with “retard” which means “to have given up one’s career: e.g., the retard Bishop of Wherever, who is to be replaced by the Suffering Bishop-Elect.” But that’s Ace Reed, not me.
We are now in the next-to-last day of this momentous General Convention and we have been working until late at night and resuming early the next morning for the last several days. If cell phone calls to loved ones at home have been terse, it’s not about you.
This is my first General Convention and so I can say without fear of contradiction, this is the best General Convention that I have ever attended. Like my Call to the priesthood, I am perpetually a late bloomer, and so it was that I was called to be an Alternate Deputy at more or less the last minute after those before me were unable to be here.
So, I went to the Worship Service/Eucharist the first morning here at the hotel, and as the music subsided, the altar party walked out to take their positions, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefforts Schori, was in the middle of the procession. “Oh, yeah, we ARE at the General Convention. Impression One.
Some days later the worship service was taking some time to finish the Communion and return the vessels to the front of the worship space, and at the leading of that day’s music director, the gathered community spontaneously entered into a sequence of Taize song: Ubi Caritas, Jesus Remember Me… Behind me a young Shoshone Indian Episcopal man from Idaho sang the Taize refrain with a pure, clear tenor voice, putting my best efforts in the shadows of his gift. Memorable! Impression Two.
Yesterday, being on the floor as a Deputy, replacing one of the regulars: The first vote, something inconsequential, I don’t even remember. What I DO remember is the sense before I voted, that the act of voting from the body of the church was really IMPORTANT. I felt the responsibility very keenly. Impression Three.
When the vote for the provisional approval for the blessing of committed, long-term, monogamous same-gender relationships was approaching, the prayerful sense of responsibility was tangible to my core. The House of Deputies called the Chaplain to the floor on two occasions to lead us in prayer. I had my Anglican Prayer Beads (Rosary) in my hands, praying the prayers of St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well. And all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.” And this old former Quaker kept praying that the Holy Spirit would breathe on me, let me feel the direction to which the Spirit was leading, and show me how to vote on this question and in this place. And the FEELING that I got, that came to me, was to vote “Yes”, and so I did. Impression Four.
Final Impression: The Deputation from Northwest Texas, and our Bishop, represent the best of the Anglican Tradition as expressed in the Episcopal Church today, proceeding, sometimes grudgingly, into the 21st Century, listening intently for God’s voice in on-going revelation.
I believe that we have heard correctly, even if the message makes some of us uncomfortable. The Prophets of old always challenge the People of Israel to hear the voice of God. I do believe that the voice of God is speaking in this General Convention and that we have been challenged to reconsider our set ways and to be open to the amazing gift of God’s love and grace to all of His Creation and all of His Creatures.
The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with us all and remain with us always.
St. Christopher's, Lubbock