Monday, July 09, 2012

Reconciliation at GC77

Moments ago the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on two resolutions involving equality for transgendered people: one to extend equal place in the church and the other to open the ordination process to the transgendered.

There are hosts of reasons to agree or disagree with these resolutions but I wanted to tell you why I voted to approve them.

I voted yes because I am a sinner. I often feel more than discomfort in the presence of transgendered people. It is sinful of me to be disconnected from fellow children of God. It was important for me to vote yes for these resolutions to open up hope that those like me will have a chance to get to know and make connections with transgendered members of our congregations. I pray that Jesus may work through those relationships to heal me of my sin and reconcile me with both himself and my transgendered brothers and sisters.

I am proud that my church challenges even me, a member of its clergy, to confront my sin and expand my understanding of God's love.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Crazy Christians and Alice's Rabbit hole.

This morning the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry preached with passion and eloquence that we need some Crazy Christians: crazy like Christ, crazy like Mary Magdelene, crazy like Harriet Beecher Stowe.

This afternoon in the House of Deputies we were certainly crazy, but I'm not sure we were crazy like the Bishop called for. There is a massive energy to reform the structures of the church, but there is an attitude of "let's make changes but don't touch (insert sacred cow here). There was an attempt in the HoD to codify a ministry office of the Church Center in the rules of order of the House. No ministry office should be defined in the rules of order because then that office has to exist.

Sadly this was an end run around the conversation on structure. Worse still, the office was that of youth ministry. In other words the house was trying to work out our issues on the backs of children. It made me sad.

But God is good and the spirit moved pulling out of Alice's rabbit hole. Through the legislative procedure we were able to return the resolution back to committee. It is doubtful we will see it again.

We need to minister with children and form children and youth to minister as well. We need to restructure the church too. We, however, can be faithful and risk a healthy prayerful conversation on the whole list of ministry offices. We need not do an end run to protect one office over the other. We especially need not do it on the backs of children.

I'm still inspired by being my experience here. If God can work thought he convoluted rules of legislative procedure, then God can work though all human disfunction.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Nebraska Night

The deputation of the diocese of Nebraska, representatives from Nebraska to ECW, and friends went out for a wonderful dinner last night at a small local pizzeria called Amici's. The fellowship and camaraderie we share is invaluable. It develops our viewpoints on the issues we are dealing with and cultivates relationships of trust with each other; all of which allows us to disagree and debate the issues with each other healthily and honestly. I am honored beyond measure to be a part of this prayerful and diligent deputation.

Later, I had a wonderful discussion with our Bishop about the theology of open communion, the theology of confirmation (especially adult confirmation) and the theology of forming priests for the church. Again these are all issues we are dealing with at this convention and it was great to get his insights.

But the highlight of the day happened earlier in the morning. We had the opening communion of the convention and the opening hymn was Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. If you can imagine 2000+ Episcopal Church Geeks belting out that hymn in four part harmony with the agogic accent, then you can imagine what heaven will be like. It was glorious!!!

Scripture I was reminded of yesterday: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." Matthew 7:7

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Sparring partners

Two great quotes from the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies today.

The presiding bishop in her opening address to theconvention said that we should, "make connections with our sparring partners..."  a lot of her speech was about how we should remain open to the spirit speaking through those that disagree with us.  Great words for both convention and life.  

The president of the House of Deputies said that the choice between mission and governance was a false dichotomy.  I agree. The late great Walter Wink wrote a lot about chosing Jesus' third way when presented with only two options.  I hope that I and my fellow deputies keep looking for that third way and deny the host of false dichotomies we will deal with this week.  

Bible verse I thought of today: At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth, Job 5:22.  I hope that we laugh in the face of our fears in regards to scarcity and look for the abundance of God.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Your Eyes Will Soon Be Opened...

I arrived in Indianapolis this morning for the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.   I was greeted by my one of my best friends from seminary, the Rev. Matthew Stewart.  He's here working as an editor of the newsletter of the Consultation, a federation of several advocacy groups who also put out a newsletter every day of Gen. Con.  

I spent the day helping set up the booth for the Episcopal Service Corps and then manning the booth when the exhibit hall opened.  I serve on the board of the Episcopal service Corps.  We are here to raise awareness of our mission, and to advocate for young adult leadership of the church.  You can read more about the Episcopal service Corps here.

Later, Matt and I went to dinner at P.F. Chang's, and, as is the custom at a lot of American Asian restaurants, they gave us a fortune cookie at the end of our meal.  Mine read, "Your eyes will soon be opened to a world full of beauty, charm, and adventure." Well, I certainly hope that is the case.  It would be nice for the governance of the church to be beautiful, charming, and adventurous. Sadly, even though I am a first time deputy, I've been around the church long enough to know that governance can become ugly, spiteful, or worse, dull.  We shall see what we get, but I am going to try and choose my attitude and look for beauty, charm, and adventure.

I was reminded of a bible verse from the Epistle of James today:  "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."(James  1:27 NRSV).  It is my fervent prayer that for the next 9 days the religion of the 77th General Convention will be pure indeed.