The day for me started early with a great pre-dawn walk along the canal/White River. The paved path took me beside the NCAA headquarters and through part of the UIPUI campus. There were quite a few other walkers and joggers out preparing for the long day of sitting that awaited. Following a quick Starbucks breakfast I reported to the committee to which I'd been assigned: the Consent for New Bishops. It is likely that canonical changes will make the work of this committee obsolete after this convention. After some lively discussion about our purpose and agenda for the day, we had 4 hearings as part of the process to give the newly elected bishops the go ahead for their consecrations. Later in the day we did the same for 4 more. All were approved by the committee so will move to the House of Deputies, then on to the Bishops.
They were articulate, bright, often humorous as they shared some of their journeys to this place. The church will be in good hands under their capable leadership. One (can't remember which one and my notes are in another place) told how many folks had asked if was excited about his election. He said that excitement was not generally the emotion that seemed to be exhibited in biblical calls. The sacrifice that accompanied calls seemed to take away that. Others spoke eloquently about reconciliation, listening, the work of the Holy Spirit, prayer.
Following lunch with our deputation all the bishops and deputies met together for talks by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies. The former (Katharine Jefforts Schori) encouraged us to see the next 9 days as a time to strengthen our hearts, to get a tune-up, to let our hearts get in synch with God's. "Breathe, breathe deep to receive the Holy Spirit who brings the chaos of the deep; we are borne on the breath of God. So breathe deep because God is in our midst." Citing different kinds of breath (baby's first one, a dying gasp, the resuscitative breath forced into a drowning victim's lungs) she said, "Don't be afraid to breathe--it brings life, joy, new possibilities. She called us to take courage in getting to know the folks who are different, who have been our sparring partners, to learn to make bridges and to breathe together. Also to be responsive, nimble and more communicative as we make God's Word flourish.
Bonnie Anderson, HOD President spoke about our early days of Independence (good topic since it is the 4th of July) and how the winds of democracy affected our polity in the church. She challenged us to be the People of God Church to stay focused on the Promised Land where all are heard and the gifts of all are valued. We should act generously with one another and to take our responsibilities as deputies seriously.
With the fireworks display completed (and viewed as reflections in the hotel windows across the plaza), I am ready to hit the proverbial hay. It has been a good first day, seeing old friends and meeting some wonderful new brothers and sisters in Christ. This church is a strange and beautiful mystery that embodies God's grace as we witness that God can and does use the likes of us to grow the reign.