by Elizabeth Ring
St. Bartholomew’s, Yarmouth
The day began with prayers, story sharing, and a march against gun violence. Heidi has put together a wonderful report with pictures and videos. If you have not seen it, do read it and watch the videos. We have some articulate, important voices leading us in the work of stemming gun violence. The video that Bishop Hayashi, himself a survivor of gun violence, released with his pastoral letter earlier this month is one of the most powerful I have seen. He tells his own story about half way through.
The morning continued with Eucharist that included the UTO ingathering. Convention worship is an extraordinary experience – colorful, musical, emotional, empowering. To sit in a room with almost as many people as there are Episcopalians in Maine takes my breath away. While the daily Eucharists are anything but low-key, the Sunday Eucharist adds processions and extra music for even more color and drama. The procession of UTO representatives, followed by the procession of Bishops, followed by the choir and the celebrant, wove through the room with great dignity. In the background were the voices of small children that added joy. Singing accompanied by organ, brass, and timpani is goose bump giving.
The Presiding Bishop used the phrase from the Gospel, “‘Talitha cum’ which means, ‘Little girl get up!’”, and the passage about the woman with the hemorrhage taking the risk to reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, to remind us that we need to risk what will happen if we reach out to touch that garment hem and that we need to get up and get out of ourselves. A powerful call on the day we witnessed against gun violence and a reminder that there is a great deal more to do. The text of the sermon is here. Bishop Katharine gives us a big nudge about our responsibility to get up, reach out, and create justice.
Each day of Convention I have bumped into at least one person that I have not seen in a long time, wonderful surprises around corners; people I have worked with in lifelong formation, ecumenism, and leadership development. I love this kind of surprise. Here are a couple of former Mainers: Deacon Jane Holmes, now in North Carolina, and Barbara Plimpton.
Our Legislative session today had moments of profundity, moments of humor, and moments of frustration – the usual mix. We completed some of our elections. Took action on a few resolutions, and welcomed the Official Youth Presence. After their two speakers completed their remarks, House President Jennings invited all the deputies who had previously been members of the OYP to come forward; it was a large group. They are a wonderful and significant proportion of the House.
My Legislative Committee – Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations – goes back to work early tomorrow morning to consider two new resolutions that have been assigned to us. We already have a few resolutions on the calendar for consideration. One on learning more about our brothers and sisters of other faiths – who they truly are, what their core beliefs espouse, and our common areas of concern as people of faith – is particularly exciting. I look forward to seeing how we can put this into action in Maine.
Between the momentous events in our country, two major Supreme Court decisions, and the positive energy around living our faith in deeper and stronger ways that is permeating the halls of Convention, we are in an awesome time. I wonder what happens next.