So here's a fun fact about General Convention: Today, my third day here, is actually the first official day. You need to come one day early to get oriented and learn what you need to learn and to organize the houses so you can get down to business. And then, if you are on a committee, you begin meeting two days before the official start of business.....so day 3 is day 1. Whatevs....
This past 24 hours for me has been a place of holding the tension between pain and joy. A place we are all familiar with; the place where Jesus often meets us. In many ways, it is a "sweet spot" for vulnerability.....
Last night the Convention held the Listening Session for the House of Bishops on Sexual Harassment in the Church. It was a prayerful liturgy with testimony read by the Bishops, but testimony written by various voices (most of them women) in the Church who have experienced harassment on some level. The Truth is that women are still treated differently in the Church (and not just in leadership) than men. The Truth is our society still treats women (and pays them) differently than men. The Truth is that much of our language, our authority, our image of authority is male-centered and male-dominated. Last night was about the Church beginning to face that reality and to have honest conversations about it, seeking to right this injustice. While the liturgy was painful in many ways, it was also a step toward cleansing. Leaving, I felt heavy and raw in many ways---deep within my heart---hearing my voice in some of those others-----and recognizing some elements of the harassment have still not been heard. Because the reality is that the denigration of women (which leads to one's ability to treat women in lesser ways) is woven into the very fabric of our society, our culture, and our language. We've got lots of untangling to do here, folks; there is much work to be done. But I am heartened that we recognize this reality, and we are beginning.
And then today in the hearings I participated in with my committee were filled with great discussions, and hearing the thoughts and inputs of folks all over the church---and all the voices championing the hope that the Church has life in her yet and we are finding new ways to be and live Church. I heard many witnesses of collaboration and new ideas and fresh starts and growing discipleship. It all made my heart sing (even though it was a very long day and now I need some sleep!)
I posted Bishop Curry's sermon on my Facebook page, but I will try to share it on the two FB pages of the Beloved Community as well. It brings inspiration (which means to be filled with the Spirit) and speaks to our truth that in these spaces of tension between pain and joy (where I found myself today)....Jesus meets us there. Without fail. I am in good hands. We are in good hands. Jesus holds us in the tension and urges us onward.
Beloved, I will take my rest now. I continue to hold you all in prayer. I ask that you do the same for me, for those among us who are recovering or struggling in any way, for our neighbors and friends, and for all those doing the work of God here at General Convention. Sending love from afar.........
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.