There is much to say and much to think about after our work at General Convention. My son e-mailed me last night and shared many thoughts and feelings about reading about our work on the blogs, the web-sites and the newspapers (via the web, naturally) and by seeing us on cable. He said that the blogs were interesting but that we were mainly blogging to each other. He reminds me that the real challenge will be to interpret and clarify what went on to the folks back home so that people who only know what we did via Headline News, USA Today and The Colbert Report will get a different perspective.
It is the same as the age-old Gospel question: where was Jesus in all this?
This morning I feel very energized. Tired, but energized. I don't know if I feel this way because of what we have done (partly) or because I did something new and survived. I am reminded of the trap many preachers get into when they confuse surviving the preaching experience (no one threw stones at me!) with effective communication. Well, I survived my first General Convention. I have to think about what went on and what it meant.
There are two things I am certain about; first, people will have their prejudices confirmed by our work these last two weeks. People who see the church giving into the worst of the culture will see the election of Bishop Katherine as presiding bishop as just one more disaster. People who hear 'communion' as another way of saying 'institutional peace' will see this as one more cave. People who want to see Anglican Fudge will see it, and how they feel about will depend on their taste in fudge.
Second, Jesus was there in a powerful and personal way.
Here are but three ways I say the face of Jesus over and over again these past two weeks.
A small circle of "Verbosians"--we frequent to semi-frequent posters to the House of Bishops and Deputies listserv--came together to pray. Some of the people who gathered in that circle I have never met before in real life, and may not again for another three years if I come back to GC#76. They represent not only the spectrum of the church, left, center, right, but the nuances within each. It had already planned to meet right just after lunch on Friday, so it turned out to be right after we had voted B033, the compromise HOB draft of the "excercise restraint" resolution. And do you what we did? We hugged, we talked, we listened and supported one another and we prayed. We prayed and we prayed. For three years we have been meeting around our little e-klatch from all over the church and we came together, face to face and prayed. These people were the face of Jesus.
My worship table was outstanding. We had with us voices, some prominant, of all parts of the spectrum. A retired bishop from a conservative diocese, a retired bishop from progressive-to-middle diocese, a bishop elect from a conservative diocese, a liberal parish priest from the NE, a moderate priest (me), two women who were lay deputies from diverse parts of the church and an outgoing, faith-filled Daughter of the King who was the sole rep from her diocese at Trienium. We were visited by youth, a Bishop from Africa, and volunteers. We sang, we joked, we prayed and we shared deeply. I came away from this table with some surprising and very dear new friends. These people were the face of Jesus to each other.
Finally, there was the guy in the food court who sold me iced tea every day. An evervescant Christian doing his job. He read our name tags and called us by name, asked us how we were doing and shared jokes with us as he served us our food. He spoke a little Spanish to the Spanish-speaking deputies and treated everyone from janitor to bishop the same. Here was Jesus, serving hamburgers and iced tea.
Jesus was present to us, just and he is present to everyone in good times and tough times, wherever we are.