General Convention–Day 3

  • Posted on Jul 8, 2012

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted  Matthew 23:12

Worship at General Convention takes places each morning at 9:30.  We gather in a large hotel ballroom that has been transformed into a church with banners, an organ, brass, choirs and altar.  We often have a guest preacher and celebrant.  Yesterday’s guest preacher was Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina (and past Rector of St James’, Lafayette Square in Baltimore).  As always, his preaching stirred us all.  And in honor of the Feast Day of Harriet Beecher Stowe, he implored us to be CRAZY CHRISTIANS!  Because anyone who follows and lives the Gospel of Jesus has to be a little crazy in this world.  Just like Harriet Beecher Stowe…who Bishop Curry imagined calmly sitting in her rocking chair, a shawl over her shoulders and knitting needles in her hands, smiling calmly while all the while, in her basement, slaves were being transported north to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

When Abraham Lincoln met Miss Stowe, he was heard to say:  “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”  Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, together with her public anti-slavery work, was largely responsible for bringing the evils of slavery to light in American and in Britain, Europe and Russia.  An unlikely prophet–as most crazy Christians–Harriet Beecher Stowe was born to a firmly Christian family.  She knew the story of the prophets of old and the gospel of Jesus and she grew up to live it in the world.

So, how might each of us be one of those crazy Christians?  I’m sure my children would already say I was one.  However, we are called to live into that prophetic craziness again and again.  Here at Convention, I decided that I was called to attend two different committee hearings and speak to two different resolutions.  Each national committee of the church holds public hearings on resolutions brought before it in advance of those resolutions being presented to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.  I spoke on Resolution D031 which was presented by the Maryland Deputation entitled “Consciousness Raising for Search Committees and Vestries.”  This resolution seeks to provide training for parishes and dioceses in search processes so the breadth and depth of the Episcopal Church is represented in its pool of candidates—women, people of color, all ages, folks with disabilities.  Last night I spoke to the resolution on Same-Sex Blessings and the materials prepared by the Committee on the Prayer Book.  I spoke in front of a large crowd and told of our Tri-Church Lenten Series and our Diocesan Video.  For me, I knew that I wanted to represent Memorial Church and the Diocese of Maryland at the hearing on blessings.  And my recent experience in the Diocese of Atlanta gave me the courage to approach the Ministry Committee on the Consciousness Raising.  But there were those nagging inner voices….

How could I really know what to say?  Did I understand the issues…really?  What made me think that I, a first-time deputy, really knew the drill?  What if I made a fool of myself?  Bishop Curry’s words spun around my head:  Martha, be a crazy Christian!  So I signed up to speak.  My name was called.  I was nervous, but I did it.  And I am glad that I am part of a Diocese and Rector of a parish that would be proud that I spoke.  And that’s part of General Convention too.  You realized how blessed you are back home.  You realize that you’ve got lots of crazy relatives in Christ to support you and have your back! Thanks be to God!

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