Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tuesday nite & Wed morning, June 13-14

Tuesday evening, June 13

The House adjourned at 6:15 p.m.; some committees, including mine, began meeting at 7:00. Dinner was bourbon and cheetoes in the diocesan hospitality room (didn't get to go to U2 Eucharist)

The Prayer Book & Liturgy Committee debated the use of the Revised Common Lectionary becoming the Lectionary of the Episcopal Church by Advent, 2010. There is strong support for the use of the RCL because of its ecumenical nature, because most liturgical study resources are keyed to the RCL, because it includes more readings that focus on the stories of women in the Bible, because the Epistle readings are more coherent and divided in a more understandable manner, and because there is less material that can be interpreted as anti-Semetic. Our committee will move its adoption. (Our parish has been using RCL for some time; I personally prefer it.)

We also did almost two hours of creative work to edit and perfect a whole series of liturgical resources and prayers for pastoral purposes during life transitions. We also formed three sub-committees to work on areas that needed a little more attention. I am knocked out by the talent and breadth of knowledge and experience of the people on this committee. Good work. We finished about 9 p.m. The subcommittees will meet between then and 7:30 in the morning.

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury conveyed a message of greeting, assuring us of the prayers of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. He thanked us for the work our Commissions and Comittees have done in responding to the Windsor Process and encouraged us to work to find some "common convictions about what it is to live and into make decisions as the Body of Christ."

Public hearings about the Title IV disciplinary canon revisions are generating a great deal of hesitancy and argument. There is a great deal of energy in support of the MillenniumDevelopment Goals.

Day 2, Wednesday, June 14 -- AM

7:30 a.m. legislative committees resume. Our committee took up the additions to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. I was particularly taken with origin of the nomination of Bertha & Ethelbert to the calendar. It is the result of a pilgrimage made by a group of young people to Canterbury Cathedral from their church in Frankfurt, Germany. The youth were so taken with the story of the French woman Bertha who established a chapel in Canterbury and then helped lead her husband Ethelbert to baptism, that the kids came home to write and perform a "rap" version of that story for their diocese. It is their diocese that has moved the adoption of the feast.

Except for the feasts that were approved at the previous Convention (Florence Li Tim-Oi, Janani Luwum, Philander Chase, William Temple, and Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis), all of the nominated feasts will be referred to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. That Commission is half-way through a full-scale revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. We approved the principles for the revision process.

The morning Eucharist was celebrated partially in Spanish and partially in English, with music by a wind quartet (and organ) and once again a compelling series of projected images of art. Our feast is Basil of Caesearea. The preacher, the Rev. Miguelina Espinal picked up the themes from the reading from 1 Corinthians 2 -- "I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom... I came to you in weakness and fear... My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." Rev. Espinal said that "our capacity to reason is weak and leads us to uncertainty." She said, "According to Jesus, this joy and wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit is given to those who have simple and humble hearts. Jesus tells us that those with a humble heart recognize that they need God. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the poor are those with the simple and humble hearts. A humble person is one who has the capacity to maintain a spirit of kneeling before the Lord even though they are standing up right."

She reminded us that St. Paul's told us if we have all the knowledge in the world but do not have love we have nothing. Keep the message simple. She concluded with a story:

Diego had never been to the sea. His father, Santiago, took him on a journey to discover it. They traveled south. The sea was beyond the tall sand dunes, waiting for them. When the boy and his father finally stood at the peak of the tallest sand dune, the sea exploded before their eyes. The sea's vastness, beauty, and brilliance were so great, that the boy became silent. When he finally spoke he was so overwhelmed that he said to his dad, "Help me to see."

When we see the vastness of God's wisdom and love for us our natural response is to say to God, help us to see and understand.

During our table conversation, one person told a story about simple and humble hearts. A famous American scholar-theologian went to the East to learn of their wisdom. He went to the home of a guru to tell him of his purpose. The teacher invited him to tea. Silently the teacher began to pour the tea into the theologian's cup. Half full. Full. Then to the brim, as he continued to pour as tea, spilling over the edge and onto the tray. The theologian looked shocked. The teacher said, "You have come to me saying you wish to learn from me, but you come with your head full of your own ideas and opinions. Unless you can empty your own cup, there is no room in you for my teaching."

As our morning Legislative Session opened, President Werner reminded us that this House does not do business as usual. We pause from time to time for silence and prayer. Applause is prohibited. There is no show of celebration overe the votes and decisions that we make, for as you walk from here, the person next to you may feel exactly the opposite from you, and that person is your brother/sister.

We passed a series of resolutions and funding to support World Mission pilgrimages, education materials and missionaries.

The chaplain's meditation was a timely one, telling a story of a youth mission trip. The group was rebuilding a porch for an elderly woman named Dorothy Williams. They rebuilt and painted her porch. When it was done, he noticed they had missed a spot on the inside corner of the porch. The only way to reach the spot was on his knees. He finished with two green knees. Not just any green, but outdoor, all weather, oil based green paint. Dorothy Williams saw his knees and said "wait." She brought baby oil and a rough cloth. Carefully, painfully kneeling on her own knees, the elderly woman scrubbed his knees clean -- an icon of caring service.

He quoted from St. Basil -- "If you seek to pursue the spiritual path independently, how can you show compassion, how can you show patience, how can you exercise humility." That's why being in church is better than taking a walk on Sunday morning, he said.

We elected Bonnie Anderson to become the new President of the House of Deputies at the end of this General Convention.

We've adjourned for lunch. Our committee has a major open hearing with presentations from four of the church's great liturgical theologians at 2:00 -- Marion Hatchett, Lionel Mitchell, Louis Weil, and Carolyln Westerhoff talking about a resolution to define baptism as full initiation. That conversation raises the question -- what is the meaning of Confirmation? Rumor has it that these liturgical giants have very different approaches to the question.

Most of the legislation is still in committee, so work on the floor is slow. As the committees bring their reports, business will accelerate.

Tuesday; 1:15 p.m.

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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Clergy Deputy to General Convention


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