It was quite a day this Fourth of July. Driving to Indy from Southern Indiana. Figuring out where to go in this large convention center, and then registering, getting credentials and ID badges. Then working a short shift at the Diocesan Hospitality booth in the exhibit room. Looking around at this sea of humanity and realizing we were all Episcopalians or somehow related to the work of the Episcopal Church.
I stopped at a booth in the food court at the pizza stand for a quick lunch. When I got to the table with the food I glanced at the receipt and was startled to see there the notation Server: Christ. I know in my intellect that I am to look for the Christ in another and that we in our actions and reactions are to be Christ to one another. I have learned it and preached it. But here was a sermon on a cash register receipt.
General Convention can be seen as a family reunion with all branches of the Episcopal family present. I noted sitting on the literal sidelines of the House of Deputies waiting for the initial addresses from the Presiding Bishop and President of the house of Deputies that ahead of me were delegations from Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and Haiti as well as our own diocese as one of the approximately one hundred dioceses of the Episcopal Church. And I noticed delegations from conservative dioceses sitting along-side moderate, progressive and liberal dioceses. People of color, people of various ethnic backgrounds, theological and social points of view are all part of this Episcopal family gathering.
In her opening remarks today the Presiding Bishop noted the family reunion aspect of General Convention and suggested the value if we were to “go find somebody who represents the outlaw side of the family for you and spend a few minutes learning your relative’s story. You might promise to pray for each other through the coming days. Perhaps you can find time for a cup of coffee or a meal together. That kind of reconciling work will have a greater effect on our readiness for mission than any legislation we may pass here.” And the readiness for mission and the health and vitality of the local congregation is most important to the grassroots not the discussions and wranglings of a convention.
As I was leaving the hall I ran into a priest with whom I had gone to seminary, whose viewpoints are almost exactly opposite mine. I smiled and spoke to him and while he was not receptive to a conversation at least we nodded amicably to one another acknowledging we are part of the same family, fed at the same table, called to serve the same family whom God loves and cares for. It’s a beginning…