From today until July 13th, I will be blogging about my experiences at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church being held in Austin, Texas. I am serving as a Deputy from the Diocese of Fond du Lac and I am also on the Committee for Diocesan and Congregational Vitality.
So today was early wake-up in order to travel, and then after arrival: beginning to see friends. Some from the Diocese, some from Seminary, some from various experiences and connections.....and that is what this is all about: love and connection.
And by "this" I mean General Convention, but I also mean this way of discipleship, this Jesus movement, this Church. This life is all about love and connection. So often we think of love as the "connector"; it is the glue that binds us together. And it is. But we forget that if we "love" another person, this means we will maintain that connection----even when it is challenging or uncomfortable or downright hard. Love means you do not simply abandon or walk away. It means that even if we are not "friends," as a fellow human being whom I love (for that is what God asks of us....to love) then, somehow, I must maintain a connection.
Right now, I find it pretty challenging with all the horrifying and damaging words people are speaking and all the destructive decisions that are happening in our country and in this world. Frankly, there are quite a few folks (and/or groups of folks) that I would rather just walk away and close the door. But God is asking something different of me, of us. And as difficult as I find this to be, out of my love for Jesus, my trust in God, I am going to wrestle with this challenging truth until I can find a way to connect to the one I think of as the "other," the one I consider my enemy. Because here's the thing: God's promises that this way of reconciliation---remaining connected to all people---will bring about not only my wellness and wholeness, but it will bring about the redemption of the entire Creation. And folks, call me crazy, but I trust this. Completely. I trust God's promise.
The trusting doesn't make it any easier. But the trusting does demand something of me, of us. Love and connection. Not only with those whose presence fills me with joy so I run to greet them, but also with those who cause a sigh to rise up in my throat and my welcome feels half-hearted. And, beloved, even with those who cause so much angst in me right now that I am going to have to pause and wrestle with the Holy Spirit before I can find a way to greet them. Even those.
And that is what I will experience these next 12 days. Remembering that if I "love" these brothers and sisters of mine (the lovely ones and fun ones as well as the annoying and exasperating ones) then I have to work to stay connected. But, oh, beloved, oh what fruit can come from love. Peace and blessings, y'all. Good night.
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.