The network at the Internet café was down all week, except for a 2 hour window that I snuck through to offer an update on the goings-on of the convention.
But now the ELCIC Tenth Biennial Convention is over and I’m back in my office.
It was a good convention. Draining. No, exhausting. I didn’t realize just how worn out I was until I arrived at church this morning with VBS getting into full swing. I don’t have much energy for ANYTHING, but I have a stack of stuff waiting for me.
But now that the convention is over, it feels like a pressure valve has opened and now we can get back to our lives. The same-sex blessing issue was taking WAY too much of our time. I’m glad it’s over.
For me, the best part of the week was the re-connecting with folks. Hearing what they’ve been up to the past 2 or 3 years. People doing well; weddings. Ordinations. Babies.
People doing not so well. Divorce. Illness. Loneliness. Death.
I came home filled with gratitude, gratitude because I have so many good friends, the opportunity to be part of their lives, and have them be part of mine. I have friends who strongly opposed the ssb resolution and friends that passionately supported it. But, still, friends.
It is clear that the ELCIC is a house divided; as the ssb resolution vote certainly confirms. It was like the two sides were speaking two different languages, two different understandings of gospel, two different ways of living faithfully.
I don't know if this issue can be resolved. The divide is too great.
The final night, I was feeling disconnected from the Church. I wasn’t planning to go to the hymn sing. But I decided I needed to re-connect, to feel like, despite our differences, differences deeper than what anyone imagined, we are still – somehow – one family, one body, one people. I don’t know how we are going to get over our differences or what such unity looks like in the midst of great disparity.
So, I sat at the back of the church, sung hymns through a constricted throat while reading music through tear-filled eyes. We have some great hymns in our church. Wonderful words of deep faith and songs of profound hope. I wondered how we could live up to the declarations we were making through song. I wondered if we ever could be the people we confess we are – loving, compassionate, faithful.
But then I thought that - maybe - being a Christian, following Jesus in the way of the cross, is not just something that we are, but also something we become through the refining fire of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to listen to the Spirit and to the world. To not run away when the fire starts to burn. To know that the way of the cross is also the path that leads to freedom and new life. The cross leads to resurrection.
So I left the convention hopeful for our church. That, somehow, our divisions will heal. That we will be united in our proclamation and our mission.
I don’t know how all this will happen. But I trust God’s promises to bring hope to a weary world.