Today was a day filled with legislation.....literally. Two long sessions with lots of conversation.
In the Episcopal Church, a resolution can only move forward if it is approved by both houses: the Deputies (clergy and lay) and the Bishops. The two houses are not always of the same mind, but in most cases, the needs and insights of each House balance one another in a helpful way. This very democratic system of being can be "messy," but it is a system which allows for the voices of many to be heard.
This Convention has been filled with many resolutions about taking a public witness. On Sunday we acted as a public witness at the Hutto Detention Center and the Bishop's Stand against Gun Violence, but we have also written, discussed, and have taken action on many issues for which we as Christians cannot remain silent. We have engaged with becoming better stewards of Creation Care, taking steps to end sexual harassment within the Church, dealing with our need for racial reconciliation, taking a hard look at how our country plays a part in the continued oppression of Palestinian people, and becoming a Sanctuary Church for immigrants and refugees who are seeking to make better lives for themselves and their families.
We have spent a lot of time talking about language and how to retain the beauty and tradition of our Prayer Book (as well as the formative theology that shapes us as we pray) while also opening up our liturgies with more expansive and inclusive language so that our imagery of God matches what we believe and can say about God. Have no fear, what you have known and loved is not going away, but we are going to gently enter a time of "trial usage." To quote John Henry Newman: "To live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often."
Beloved, I am grateful that it is nearing our time to return home. While I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to take part and be here at Convention, it is a long time to be away. I miss all of you and my family. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to be here with the good folks of our Diocese. We are blessed by our Bishop and by those who have been elected to be Deputies along with me. Tomorrow is our last day and then I travel on Saturday. Two more long legislative sessions tomorrow, and then our work is done at Convention. But then the important work of taking up what God is continually calling us to----the work of love----always lies ahead. Let us keep our eyes on the prize (Jesus) and our hand to the Gospel plow. Peace and night blessings.....
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.