What a worship service we had this morning!
We started our morning with a festive mood. Our music today was provided by an incredible jazz group, and the first song they played for us was “We are marching in the Light of God.” We sang and danced and clapped along, and before we knew, the diocese of Fort Worth had started a congo line through the worship space. This congo line was greatly increased by finding a group of youth representing Episcopal camp and conference center. They know how to dance a congo line!
The jazz ensemble added an entirely different feel to our worship. I particularly liked the way we prayed the psalm together. The cantor led us in a refrain and we joined her, and then for the verses, we prayed them in unison while the jazz group played behind us. It really reinforced the poetry of the psalter.
We commemorated Isabel Florence Hapgood and the readings appointed for her feature visions from Isaiah and the Revelation to John. In her sermon, [read it or watch it online] the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, reminded us that visions point to a reality that is beyond what mere human words can contain. She went on to spin an imagination of what it would be like if John of Patmos were to bring his visions to the convention floor. She said:
I was born well before computers and online culture transformed the world and transformed the church, but I know what a mashup is and I’ve wondered what would happen if John of Patmos ran headlong into the House of Deputies. I think it might sound something like this: I saw the temple filled with deputies in shimmering raiment and a creature with six arms and a voting device in each one said, “I rise to a point of personal privilege during which I would also like to amend the amendment on the previous motion and immediately end debate and refer the resolution back to the parallel committee for further consideration.” And the Lamb, in a voice that caused all to tremble said, “Sit down deputy. You are out of order.”
And she encouraged us to seek solutions that aren’t just efficient or affordable, but to go after solutions that serve the kingdom. She reminded us that this work would be hard and tiring, but that is the case of wrestling with the kingdom of God. But, she said, “Count it all as blessing.” And you know the deputation from Fort Worth will be living those words in the week to come.
One of my very favorite moments of worship at convention has been watching the table get loaded up with the bread and wine at the Offertory. A stream of deacons and lay people from all over the Church bring the gifts forward, one after another. Watching from the congregation, I wonder how it’s all going to fit. It does, of course, and I am struck each time, this abundance is not just a symbol, this is the food for the body. This is what it takes to feed this Church, to send the Body of Christ on to its work.
One more special moment from worship today: there’s a children’s program at Convention. Children of deputies and bishops come to worship with us and then spend the day together in their own activities. One of our youngest worshippers added his or her “AMEN” in a loud, clear, sweat voice after each congregational AMEN. It was its own kind of music.
Today members of our deputation served as Chalice Bearers, Brent Walker and Jordan Ware, and I couldn’t resist sneaking over to take pictures of them.
The Rt. Rev. Mary Glaspool of Los Angeles was our celebrant today, and her blessing included this line that I’ll conclude with, too:
“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.”