Thursday, July 9, 2009

Press, Protesters, and People of God

Yesterday, July 8, USA Today (delivered to our rooms) announced "Tense Times for Episcopals."

Attendees had to walk through a line of protesters to get into the convention center.

However, my experience of the day was one of people in real conversations, speaking and listeninng to one another.

It was interesting to hear how a priest and deputy walked up to the protesters and engaged in a civil conversation. She invited one of them to sit for a while, have coffee, and visit. They did, perhaps not changing one another's mind but engaging in being the community of the church.

I experienced a house of bishops in an honest, open, and deliberate conversation. Respecting one another's views but thinking deeply about matters before us. While this occured during a time when visitors were not allowed into the House, I can say that I was keenly aware of a House not divided but living into the Body of Christ we are called to reflect and be.

I can bear witness to the global church that is gathered as a host of bishops from around the communion were introduced to us and the Archbishop led us in a meditation on our mission of stewardship and will lead us this morning in a bible study. These are reminders we are not a church alone in the US but a global communion.

In the exhibition hall, a market of ideas were being shared in many conversaitons as I spent time between meetings.

I visited with young Texans excited about seeing and experiencing the breadth of their church and feeling not only invited to be a part but truly feeling a part of a greater body. Others (James D. and Kevin S. who have been invited to lead the worship at the Young Adult gathering) ready to share the gifts and leadership of the Diocese of Texas with a wider church.

Our deputies have been meeting together and are a diverse group. They reflect us well. They also reflect well the best of the Diocese of Texas as I witness their work of deep listening to one another and attempts to understand their discerning role as our elected leaders.

Our Bishops, Dena and Rayford, are representing us well in their leadership on committees. I am thankful for their partnership and thier work with me and our deputation.

In these few days it has already been a time of renewed friendships from around the church, seeing friends from other ministries and times, it is like a family reunion in that sense of things.

This event as a whole is also an icon of who we are and has the potential for moments of clarity where we can witness the kingdom of God if our eyes can look beyond the headlines, harsh reactions, and into the eyes of our fellow Christians speaking our story and bearing witness to the a living Christ who died that we might truly glorify God in our mission and ministry.

This may be a hard time. However, we should also be proud of our church and the incredible work we do and witness we bear to the world of Jesus Christ's love for God's people.

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball