Long days. Emotional moments. Uplifting worship. Great preaching. Worldwide visitors. Church Wide has it all. The tiny presiding bishop singing camp songs. Roman Catholic Bishop Madden thanking us for voting to continue the dialog between our churches that may lead to full communion in the future.
I think I’ll have to keep track of the proceedings by checking off the moments that bring me to tears. There have been more and more. So far there has been a tearful moment in worship each day. Every service has been really different. Opening worship was majestic and formal with streamers, all the bishops and synod VP’s and communion ministers in procession, the National Lutheran Choir singing, organ and brass, the presiding bishop preaching. Yesterday I got to be a communion minister, Linda Ortiz preached on the Prodigal Son and we sang “Come home, come home, you who are weary come home,” as the hymn of the day and as the refrain of the Prayer of the Church. Today we had Cajun music and Dixieland, and black preaching that urged us to come out of the graveyard and into the life of the resurrection as he preached the Resurrection story from Marks’ Gospel and a dancer who danced the story of Israel’s journey out of slavery crossing the Red Sea.
We were greeted by the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, a representative of the Jewish Interfaith Affairs of the Anti-Defamantion League and one from the Islamic Society of North America. This afternoon we met representatives of all our colleges and seminaries and representatives of all our full communion partner churches (Presbyterian, Moravian, Reformed, UCC, Methodist, and Episcopal), and also from the Greek Orthodox, AME, CME They were all there when the Roman and Lutheran representative of the Joint Dialog Task Force came out for the vote to accept (or not) the Declaration on the Way, the culmination of the conversation that began in the 90’s with the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification. When the assembly voted YES, everyone was on their feet, applauding. This kind of reconciliation is historic and a model that speaks of healing when the rest of the world feels more and more divided. I was overcome; present for history being made, and the feeling that deep wounds were being healed. Maybe it’s possible for the Body of Christ to really become one body with many members. Our gift to Bishop Madden, the chief negotiator for the Catholics was one of the hand made ceramic chalices made especially for this assembly. This will be a hard moment to top.
What a privilege to be part of all this. Thank you.