There is no question but that the “glue” which holds The Episcopal Church together is The Holy Eucharist. Well, Jesus holds us together but it is the experience of him in the broken bread and the cup of blessing which are the outward and visible signs of this inward and spiritual grace. No where is this more clearly seen than at General Convention.
We can argue and even fight, we can be short sighted and petty, we can become so self absorbed as to almost disappear within ourselves, but when we gather for Eucharist we are truly one Body in the one Spirit. This is not some superficial, can’t-we-just-all-get-along-for-an-hour-or-so, but a genuine ministry of reconciliation among us. It is why I believe we will get through these trying times (not only in Convention, but in the days and years to come) in better shape than some of our ecumenical partners who do not have this same commonality of sacramental communion celebrated together in “the beauty of holiness.”
Over the weekend, we have seen two amazing expressions of this. On Saturday the Eucharist was celebrated with steel drums, gospel singing and a rousing sermon on “those crazy Christians” by arguably our finest preacher, Michael Currey, Bishop of North Carolina. It is not only the energy of his proclamation, borne of the African American church experience, but his artful handling of the biblical texts and the masterful construction of his message. A comparison with Dr. Martin Luther King would not be over-reaching.
The Sunday Liturgy was simply splendid. Much more traditional in character (but with some blended elements of both classical and contemporary songs and chant) it featured an amazing choir, great congregational singing, and a fine sermon by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Watching thousands of people receive the Sacrament with such devotion and joy was more than inspiring.
My thanks go out to all the lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons who have worked so hard to prepare the liturgies, lead us in experiencing them, and “cleaning up after us” long after we have departed for our legislative work.
Including my hard-working wife — Deacon Susanne Watson Epting — who has coordinated the scheduling and coaching of deacon-participants, worked with other “floor managers” to facilitate the flow of worship, and composed or edited the Prayers of the People written fresh each day to bring the concerns of our minds and hearts into the Presence of God in intercession and thanksgiving.
Thank God for the gift of Eucharist!