On Friday night of General Convention, I was blessed to be able to attend the Eucharist Hosted by Integrity (a grass roots advocacy group for the full inclusion of the GLBT community in the Episcopal Church). I say I was blessed for three reasons:
- I actually got in and got a seat. Trinity Episcopal church in downtown Columbus was completely FULL. Your read that right. An Episcopal Church was filled beyond capacity and it was neither Christmas nor Easter. They literally had to turn some people away because of safety reasons. Rarely, in my time as an Episcopalian, have I worship so closely with so many--closely in the we were literally sitting shoulder to shoulder snese. Would it not be wonderful if all our churches were overflowing every Sunday. Yes, our bodies might be a bit uncomfortable, but our souls would be the better. My first spiritual director taught me that our soul, our lives of faith, grow in community. They grow when we have to rub up against each other, when we can not isolate ourselves in a space where our egos and perceptions go unchecked. Plus, with that many people in a small space, singing becomes a whole lot of FUN!
- I was blessed to see so many from Nebraska at the Eucharist. The Bishop and Marty, Dean Hurly, Ruth and Larry Jaynes, Jody Kressenbock from Crete, and probably more that I could not see in the crowd were all there. Others wanted to attend, but either got there too late and it was full, or they went to another Eucharist hosted by the office of Hispanic Ministries--an equally attended and energetic worship experience.
- I was blessed to hear the Bishop of New Hampshire preach the Gospel. His message was simple: Love! Love those that love you and, more importantly, love those that don't love, and even hate, you. If ever there was a person that had a right to be angry, to be mad, to be vengeful it is him. I can not imagine what is like to have my life threatened simply becuase of how I was born. I can not imagine what it is like to have vicious hateful things said about and to me simply because of whom I love. I can not imagine having to wear a bullet-proof vest under my vestments simply to celebrate the Eucharist. Bishop Robinson has experienced all these things many, many times over. Yet, he is hopeful, kind, and loving. In the face of the negative and hateful energy that has been sent his way he has consistently responded with love and kindness. Indeed he is a faithfilled man. Indeed he is a role-model. Indeed he is an amazing pastor. Once again, I am sure that the Diocese of New Hampshire elected him, not because he is gay, but because he is an amazing pastor. I am a pretty cynical guy, and out of arrogance am pretty judgemental of all preachers. I was in tears from this sermon: tears of repentence for when I have not been loving, tears of wonder at the light of Christ shining from this man, and tears of hope that we in the pews would be inspired to love as Christ loves and make the world a merrier place.