Daily Corrections and Daily Glories (but it sure was a long day!)
I wrote yesterday about the General Convention special order of business, but I was wrong. I stand corrected about being wary of the special order set for dealing with B033 resolutions. When the time came, I listened to two very short summaries of history and options; and then I turned to speak with a deputy whom I did not know. I was absolutely delighted during our conversation. Of course, I must admit that it helped that we were in agreement about both history and future. Still, I suspect that even if we had disagreed more, I would have enjoyed it. The man with whom I spoke was (and is!) a faithful Episcopalian who has given much time and energy to a church he loves. I suspect that, in this way, he was like every single one of the other deputies in the house. The thirty minutes I spent talking with my new pilgrim friend was a highlight of the day. Thank you, Committee 8, for the special order!
In fact, this day was a long one. For me, it started at 7:00 am, at the “Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Church Music’ Committee that I am happily co-chairing with the good Bishop Wayne Smith. Actually, he chairs the House of Bishops committee 13; I chair the House of Deputies committee 13. He is a good man, and I am enjoying working with him. Our deliberations at that hour were tough. We were trying to review and approve various collects and propers for inclusion in the possible document, Holy Women, Holy Men. How hard it is, and treacherous, and even unwise, to try to edit or write collects by committee!
However, one of the highlights of the day occurred when I realized, with my colleague Ruth Meyers, that we were discussing critical theology in marvelous snippets and rich nuggets. For instance: is it imperative that we close every prayer of ours with a Trinitarian formula? Most of us are quite accustomed to it. But shouldn’t prayers designated for inclusion in Enriching Our Worship (not the Prayer Book) also engage us in various other conclusions? Despite our using up considerable time, it was quite engrossing. We did not finish. We will have to take up the resolution later.
I am enjoying worship at General Convention, and that has not always been the case. Two things have made it work well for me. 1) the music is splendid and strong. For our first two days, the selections for song have not been standard ones from the Hymnal 1982. We are tasting rhythm and delight. 2) the distribution of communion has been highly efficient. It is a challenge to administer bread and wine to 2000 people in a sort of warehouse. It has worked. Of course, the rest of the liturgies have been strong, too, including the sermon and meditation. But that should always be the case!
At 2:00 pm, our committee heard testimony regarding same-sex blessings and/or marriage rites. This material is well covered elsewhere on the internet, including here: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_112249_ENG_HTM.htm. Enjoy. I was moved by several of the testimonies, including those relatively few who spoke against same-sex blessings in some way. Though the hearing ended shortly after 4:00, the officers of the committee have necessary paperwork and discussion, and we are always late!
So, it was 4:30 when I dashed over to the floor of the House of Deputies for our next legislative session. The voting mechanism for our first election did not work. This has become quite burdensome for the house. I must say, too, that it is difficult to vote electronically for twelve people. Thus, we tabled elections, and our special order of business commenced, about which I wrote at the beginning of this article.
Then I had a quick 30 minutes supper. I ate fast so I could go out and visit for 15 minutes with a former colleague, who once worked with me at the Cathedral of St. Philip. Elizabeth Rechter is now a priest here in the Los Angeles area, and it was fabulous to catch up with her.
At 7:30 pm, Committee 13 heard still more open hearings! This time, our testifiers were fervent witnesses urging us to include more people into Holy Women, Holy Men (that is the title if it passes; it might continue to be Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
So, the day is finally over, but we are only just beginning. There will be more long days. The rush and the quick decision-making are inevitable and often frustrating. But there are moments of tender glory in each day. The people here are beautiful, my committee members, those who testify at open hearings, the old friends I meet in the hallways, the new friends i have met. The people here are beautiful, and I love them.