Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sunday, July 8: General Convention notes

Today's Update from General Convention
Sunday, June 8 
General Convention Notes

7:30 a.m. -- Committee meetings.  Our Prayer Book, Liturgy  
Sunday, July 8, 2012
General Convention Notes

This post may be shorter than some of the others (to the relief of some readers, no doubt). I’ve been going so consistently today that I haven’t been able to take notes.

But I’d like to start with something I promised earlier. Dr. Jenny Te Paa from New Zealand offered a poem as a prayer for our Noonday office. I asked Jenny to send me the text, which she kindly did. I like it. (and it sounds so much better in her gentle accent)

God, we’ve stopped talking

What would happen if we stopped talking?
What would you do if we gave up on confession altogether?
I mean to say . . .
Would it make a scrap of difference to you, God?

We only tell you what we want you to know.
We only speak what we can bear to admit.
We do not say anything that would unmask our shame.
With respect, all the rest we expect you to know.

What would be our state if we stopped talking
How, say, if we sit in silence and quietly look to you,
while you quietly look at us?
What then, God?

How long would we have to wait for you to speak?
Would your steady gaze unravel the past?
Would your whisper guide us through the maze?
Would your Spirit settle our plight?

O God, if only you would give us one of your looks!
One glance with your care would cure it all.
One look from you would be enough.
God we've stopped talking,
we are ready to trust in your vision.

From: Tranquil Moments. The Poetry of Prayer. Hardie, Brian. Steel Roberts
Ltd: Wellington. 2002

7:30 a.m. - Today was an optional day for committee meetings on our calendar. My Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee chose to meet in sub-committees to work on several sets of liturgical texts: the Blessings material; a set of resources Honoring God in Creation; rites for the Care of Beloved Animals; and “Daily Prayer for All Seasons,” a publication for prayers of the hours. Once they were together and working, since as chair I wasn’t on a sub-committee, I went to have a leisurely breakfast and read a portion of the newspaper for a change.

9:30 a.m. - The U.T.O. Eucharist. Each General Convention has a big Sunday Eucharist which includes the ingathering of the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women from every diocese. (If I remember my numbers, this is a service that collects around $3 million - but don’t quote me because I’m terrible at numbers.) Usually we have this service in an arena or a large convention center hall. In 2009 we cut the budget for General Convention, so we had to have the service in a very large hotel ballroom. I would guess there were close to 2,000 people there, but hundreds couldn’t get int. There was an overflow room with video, and many stood. And the seating inside was VERY tight.

The music was outstanding. The choir sang a fine setting of Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life by Frank Boles. I was glad when we sang Hymn 51 We the Lord’s People, and during communion a hymn I remember from camp and Cursillo, Brother, Sister, let me serve you (from Voices Found, #124), an updated version of Brother Let Me be Your Servant.

Joining us before the service were some more friends from St. Paul’s - Dave Williams and his step-son James Allen, and Cathy Campbell and her son Noah. After the service they were the guests of the Chicago Consultation at a luncheon that featured some family stories from St. Paul’s.

The Chicago Consultation invited these friends from St. Paul’s to talk about their own life in Christ as they lived it through their own experience of what some think of as “issues” that the church is dealing with. It was a wonderful gathering.

Dave told about his relationship with Carl Allen and their marriage in San Francisco during the window of opportunity in California. 

Kathy and Noah told their story about a child who sensed himself in the body of the wrong sex.  Noah is now a happy, mature, adult, committed to his church and comfortable in his own skin.  Years ago, he was a miserably unhappy girl, wishing he could be something other than what he was.  He and Cathy helped us put faces on something for many that is just "an issue."  

BUT... I am typing at midnight.  And I am too tired to tell you about this, or other things that happened today, with much confidence in my accuracy or typing. I need to go to sleep and hope I can get some time tomorrow to fill you in on a wonderful day.

But let me finish this day with this.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been so glad to be part of this church - to be an Episcopalian. To be at St. Paul’s (the noon gathering) and to have been formed in Mississippi (the evening event I’m now returning from). Simply to be Episcopalian (the wonderful Eucharist, and everything). To be from Arkansas (every time our deputation gets together in part or in whole). Over and over this week, I feel so lucky - the beneficiary of so much unearned privilege - and the inheritor of such a fine tradition.  

Every time I participate in the General Convention I feel more and more thankful to be part of this peculiar branch of the Body of Christ. I believe myself to be extraordinarily fortunate, and wonderfully happy. Now I must get some sleep. But that is challenged by my desire to tell you about all that happened today - a good day - but I’m too tired.

Sometimes life is too much, too wonderful for a body to take.

Lowell 

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