General Convention Musings – Brad Benson

It is Day Three of Convention and just about every minute, I am in awe of the power of this gathering. This morning we were greeted at morning Eucharist with the majestic sound of a Native American drum circle. Each day’s worship takes on a different flavor. Yesterday was jazz.  We honored the feast day of an Oneida chief from New York State (!) who became a priest and went on to lead his people in a struggle for justice.

The diversity of this body is amazing and I am relishing looking at everyone’s faces.  It reminds me that our Church is so widespread.  Worship has been in English, Spanish and Italian so far.  This, in turn, reminds me of the breadth of God’s creation and I am humbled beyond measure.

While I am here to represent a diocese, right now, the experience of this all is very personal. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision transformed my life(!!).  For a few years now I have rejoiced to be able to say, “This is my husband Carl.”  Unless you have walked in my shoes, you have no idea how liberating it is to have your marriage viewed as “normal”.  And now, that joy can spread to literally millions of others.  Never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy. Praise God.

Justice and expanding the tent are definitely two themes of convention, either deliberately or by its nature. I rejoice that my Church is engaged boldly in these two directions.

The other thought I have this morning is informed by an article that I read by a famous travel guide author. He summed up many of our tribulations in the admonishment that WE should get out more.  Convention is a reinforcement of that for me.  We really do need to GET OUT MORE and mix it up with others.  That goes for the local level as well. Listen and learn and love others around you, even if they are from another country, state, county or neighborhood.  There we will see God.

I wish everyone could be here.  The convention center is big, but not that big!  I have already made mental plans for how I will bring some of this immensely moving spirit that I’m feeling here back to the pews of my parish. More comments to come.

As a native American flutist filled the huge worship space with his lilting tone, the bishops of the Church left en masse to go to the local cathedral and vote on the next Presiding Bishop.  I wish our bishop had asked our opinion of the candidates, but I’ll assume he has been studying them far more closely than I.  I will trust that the Spirit will lead to the best choice–as it certainly was with Katherine.  I’m excited for the future.  Amen and amen.

The Rev. J. Brad Benson
Rector, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church
Bath NY USA

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