“Everyone here is a child of God. Hard stop. Period.” Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
We were gifted with a fine preach this morning.
We who gathered for 8:00 AM worship on day two of General Conference were the tired and the dispirited. A new rule, number 44 by name, had been brought before the body as a way to participate in one of Wesley’s Means of Grace: Holy Conferencing. The gist of the rule was that Roberts Rules could be put aside while considering challenging issues. Perhaps, given the clear challenge of discussing issues regarding sexuality (why is this so very hard???) people could speak heart to one another and learn from one another and allow for decision-making to be shaped by listening to one another.
This is clearly an uncomfortable notion. It is clearly uncomfortable because Rule 44 is not being readily adopted. Rather than agreeing to enter into holy discourse, the chains of protocol (Robert’s Rules rule) are being rattled and the Body is (thus far) bound.
Into that collective sense of “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Bishop Palmer rose to speak the Episcopal Address.
It felt to me that the Bishop was summoning the Spirit to blow grace through the gathered faithful. Bishop Palmer was prophetic and his words resonated with the same sort of deep sense of love and grief Jesus shared in his prayer in John 17: 23. Jesus prays that the disciples might be one in order that they might bear witness to the miracle of God made flesh in the heart and teachings of Christ Jesus.
The quote above about everyone being a child of God was just one of the things that made me rejoice in the power of the Word preached through the prism of a heart broken open by grief.
We are those hearts, aren’t we?
Our hearts are broken, to be sure, but from such a laid-open place the sounding of the gospel gains urgency and power.
Jesus prays yet for us to live the legacy of love offered to us.
Conversation by conversation, shared heart by shared heart may we lay ourselves open to the wash of God’s grace. Surely we have the courage to learn the hearts of others in order for us to become one in the Spirit.
“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Jesus said it. We might try it.