Our diocese had its elections for General Convention deputies in February 2011. That was almost 18 months ago. I’ve had a long time to get ready for this. And I remember discovering shortly after being elected that a good friend of mine, Steve Pankey, had been elected to serve as a deputy from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. For a year and a half, I have been excited about being here in Indianapolis with someone I respect and whose company I really enjoy.
Then, about two months ago, at Province IV Synod at Kanuga, I ran into Lonnie Lacy, another friend from seminary who has been elected to serve as a deputy from the Diocese of Georgia. I was sitting in a rocking chair when he walked past, and I jumped up and exclaimed, “Lonnie! I didn’t know you were going to be here.” So, for the past month, I have looked forward to serving alongside him as well.
Yesterday, walking from the exhibition hall to the House of Deputies, I passed by Melody Shobe, yet another friend from seminary. You know how this goes. I didn’t know…I was excited. The same can be said for Luther, Holly, Sandy, Thack, Linda, Sharon, and many, many more. There are a lot of people here, yet I’m reminded how very, very wonderfully small our church is.
As I think about the craziness of General Convention, I am reminded by all of these wonderful encounters that this is all about relationship. Perhaps the greatest gift we are given in these ten or so days is community. I have seen people I knew would be here, people I didn’t know would be here, and people I didn’t even know until two days ago. And today I’ll meet some more people I didn’t know before. As Christians, we are one body. As Paul writes in today’s lesson from Romans, we are joint heirs with Christ. That means we are linked at a deeper level than we might possibly imagine. We dwell together in the Lord. And it’s a whole lot easier for me to appreciate that when I’m singing hymns in a room of 1000+ people, who have come together to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.
What will tomorrow bring? Whom might I discover? How will God use this occasion, this encounter, to build up the body of Christ?