One of the important things baseball players need to learn early each game is the dimension of the home plate umpire’s strike zone. The rule book spells it out, but in reality the strike zone is whatever the umpire says it is. The players have to figure out if the umpire’s zone runs a bit high, or favors pitches that are low. Players adapt to the umpire’s perspective – and calibrate their split-second decisions to swing or not to swing accordingly. A relative harmony exists if the umpire is consistent.
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We are coming into the home stretch of this General Convention. We finish late Friday afternoon. Today a balanced budget for The Episcopal Church was passed in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. There were no amendments to the budget, although some were proposed in the House of Deputies. There was virtually no discussion on the budget in the House of Bishops. It was a moment of legislative whiplash which, I suppose, reflected the feeling of futility that nothing could be changed.
We are moving forward. Not as quickly as some of us would like, but it seems that more people are coming in the movement forward, and with less rancor. Yesterday afternoon the House of Deputies overwhelmingly passed a resolution that moved the church beyond B033 to allow full inclusion.
There are lots of things that can be said of General Convention - that it is part county fair, part family reunion and part House of Representatives. That it is the largest bi-cameral legislative body in the world - with 120 or so bishops in one house and 800 deputies (half clergy and half lay) in the other. There are about 7,000 of us in all - with alternates, delegates to the Women's Triennial, visitors, exhibitors, spouses and partners, staff volunteers and international guests - filling up two hotels which flank the Convention Center located two blocks from Disneyland.
I have several friends who are dealing with serious challenges in their lives. One of these friends sent me a poem by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. I pass it on as a poem and a prayer.
What to do in the Darkness
Consent to it
But don't wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Watch for dawn.
One might think that eight District Confirmation services would be an ecclesiastical chore, but they have become an unfolding and profound spiritual gift. At each service a veritable parade of confirmands assembles in the side aisle, and before they come individually to kneel before me I remind them that the Book of Genesis tells us that we have been made in the image of God. That we are imago dei.
Welcome to this new venture in communicating to the Episcopal Diocese of Newark -- and to the wider world.
In the Diocese of Newark, we have claimed four core values -- which correspond to four gates of hope. They are worship, spiritual formation, justice/nonviolence and radical hospitality.
In this new blog -- which I have entitled "For Gates of Hope", I will be writing regularly about life and faith, struggle and hope. I will be writing about what I am pondering and praying.