ROC Episcopal General Convention / Day Two
“How do you follow in the way of love in a world that is unloving?” With this question Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, began his homily for the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church’s Opening Eucharist. The jumping off point of his homily was John 15, where Jesus speaks of himself as the vine, and we the branches. He then went on to ask if we heard what Jesus was whispering there in John’s Gospel. “Did you hear it?” he asked. “I think Jesus is talking about the Episcopal Church. Our branch of the Jesus movement.” And with these words, as is his custom, he left that Gospel and preached from a whole host of biblical imagery, most notably from Peter walking on the water with Jesus.
“This is not a passage about Jesus calming the storm,” said Bishop Curry. “This is about walking with Jesus in the midst of the storm, keeping our eyes on the prize.” Quoting from Bonhoeffer, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Benedict and more, Bishop Curry invited the Episcopal Church to follow in the way of old Gospel song and “Keep our hands on the plow, hold on.” “We don’t need anything new,” said Bishop Curry. We need to pull from our treasure box and be made new.” As he drew his homily to a close for the fourth time, Bishop Curry asked one final question: “What would happen if we asked every Episcopalian to adopt a way of love, practices for a Jesus centered life?” What if we Episcopalians inhabited the way of love as an instinct instead of an idea? This was the central message of Bishop Curry’s address to General Convention, inviting everyone to “pray daily to be used by God,” and to “always speak the way of love.” And, perhaps most importantly, before we march, before we converse, before we do anything at all, we ought “to meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus.” When we do so, said Bishop Curry, the life of faith will come to have less to do with victory and more to do with God’s justice and reconciliation.
The days of General Convention are busy, filled with hearings and legislative sessions where resolutions are considered, questioned and discussed. They are also filled with prayer and deep listening. The opening Eucharist revealed just how diverse the Episcopal Church has become and is becoming, as well as its usefulness of technology, having all the services bulletins and documents for Convention available on phones and tablets.
Debates have occurred and do occur, often around money, as with the compensation for the President of the House of Deputies, a previously unpaid position. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit fills this convention with an openness and respect for all people, even “weird Episcopalians,” as Bishop Curry reminded, holding our meetings here in Austin in solidarity with this weird city.