Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Bolt from the Blue

I am now back in my room from a day very different than the one I expect when I awoke this morning. I knew that by the time I went to sleep we would have a new Presiding Bishop. The Right Rev. Katherine Jefforts Schorie will be the next presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. I honestly thought that we would have one of the men who were nominated. Probably partly assumption and partly based on the sense that the bishops would go for a 'safe' 'moderate' candidate to navigate us through the years ahead.

I have heard one or two people who said that they knew it all along. Maybe. But my gut says that these are like the people who really knew that the Red Sox would come back from three games down in the ACLS in 2004 to beat the Yankees and then win the world series. Nice dream maybe but not too likely.

One thing I do know. Any of the other six nominees would have been competent and able Presiding Bishops. I would have been happier with some more than others, but nonetheless, any would have been fine...even perhaps better than fine. But not one of them could have electrified the House of Deputies the way that the news of Bishop Katherine did. Even before her the person announcing her first name, there was an audible gasp and then a thunderous outburst of applause, shrieks of joy and cheering.

The news traveled fast. While Bishop Schorie was being introduced to the house to more thunderous applause and cheering, my cell phone bleeped with a text message. It was from my daughter: she had just seen on that we had elected a woman presiding bishop and she texted me "Is it true?" I texted back "Yes." She texted back "Fantastic!!! Good job, Dad!" (At nearly the same time, my wife also texted me with a similar question.) Well, I voted to confirm but I did not do this. Certainly the male Bishops who have learned and discovered and appreciate and love the gifts of women did this. But they didn't do this either. The Holy Spirit did this.

For all of our machinations and all of our speculations; for all of our agonizing about how to stay in communion, no one--none on the left or the right or the middle--expect this. If Senator Danforth is right that our charism is to have the ministry of reconciliation, then perhaps the place to start is with people who know about building bridges, who know about the margins, and who know about the depth and subtlety of God and creation. Maybe what God is showing us is that the way to create communion is to live in communion.

God is up to something and it came like a bolt from the blue.

(Here is a summary of the actual vote.)

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