Here, in the Diocese of Olympia, we just finished our annual convention. The theme was Radical Hospitality, as we learn more and more about being the people of radical hospitality. I had hoped to model this convention off of the very good fruits that I believed came from my experience at Lambeth Conference this summer. And so we had more Bible Study, and more discussion in Indaba groups. We took up three topics in three hours spread over our time, the environment, hospitality, and human sexuality. My hope was that we would focus more on our relationships and conversation, and less on legislation with the belief that we will never be able to legislate our relationships or our growth and learning as we continue to live in community. We so often do not talk to each other. "Early returns" reveal that many truly loved the new format, I believe that is true because we don't get the chance to talk to one another much in our society or our church.
What I heard, even in this much smaller and surely truncated version of Indaba, was much the same as I heard and experienced at Lambeth; people coming away from conversations with those with whom they did not agree, but still knew they were in relationship with, thus making the strident stance we often hold a bit less easy or firm. Mostly, too, some joy in the fact that this might still be possible in the church. It was surely not perfect, there were some little problems here and there, but all in all a really good thing.
We also experienced the worship provided by Church of the Apostles, (COTA) and the Church of the Beloved, both emerging churches. There is a haunting song they sing, "Broken" with lyrics that repeat, "I am broken, you are broken, everyone is broken." It ends with the line, "I never knew broken glass could shine so brightly." I can rarely get through this tune without tears and I saw some of the same reaction around the room. Jonathan Weldon, Interim Rector of St. Paul's, Bellingham came up after the worship to say that what he sensed is that this emerging worship has brought back lament. It gives us a real way of lamentation. I think that is so true. Just as we don't have time to talk to one another about the deep issues of the heart, and our lives, we also do not have time or space enough for lament. Lament in our world is often seen as a sign of weakness, instead of strength.
We were offered both this weekend and most importantly the gift of time spent together and the courageous hope that God's Kingdom remains within our grasp, open to all, that we can still be signs of it, as we travel toward it ourselves.