The day has finally come. I’ve boarded my flight – along with most of the RI deputation – and am headed to General Convention. As I sit here and thing of what’s to come I can’t help but think of the choir anthem I sang on Sunday. My parish choir made a special summer appearance for our former choir director’s first Mass (he was ordained a priest on Saturday). For our anthem we sang Draw us in the Spirit’s Tether music by Harold Friedell words by Percy Deamer:
Draw us in the Spirit’s tether; for when humbly, in thy name, two or three are met together, thou art in the midst of them: Alleluya! Alleluya! Touch we now thy garment’s hem. As the faithful used to gather in the name of Christ to sup, then with thanks to God the Father break the bread and bless the cup, Alleluya! Alleluya! So knit thou our friendship up. All our meals and all our living make as sacraments of thee, that by caring, helping, giving, we may true disciples be. Alleluya! Alleluya! We will serve thee faithfully.
It’s one of my favorite anthems. I think it’s the perfect anthem as deputies, bishops, volunteers, staff, and visitors from around The Episcopal Church gather together for this triennial body.
There are many contentious things coming before the two houses at General Convention. The is great tension and anxiety about the budget. Concerns over political resolutions and the work of the Standing Committee of Liturgy and Music. There have been times on the HoB/D (House of Bishops/Deputies) list serve where those actively posting have not been the most Christian – on all sides of every argument. I remember the last General Convention had moments of great prayer and discernment and moments where I thought we were on Capital Hill. I know I am guilty of being a little too snarky and not a forgiving as I could be. The first line of this anthem, ” Draw us in the Spirit’s tether; for when humbly, in thy name, two or three are met together, thou art in the midst of them: Alleluya! Alleluya!” is a wonderful line to hold in prayer as we gather. No matter how difficult and challenging things get on the floor of the house we have been called into the presence of God, and the Holy Spirit is clearly working amongst us. How else could this convention function if it weren’t for the Spirit.
Deamer’s word also remind us that we are knit together in fellowship and friendship. “So knit thou our friendship up.” Over the years, I’ve heard many folks talk about the big family reunion that is General Convention. I know there are certainly folks I’m looking forward to seeing whom I haven’t seen for three years. This also speaks, at least for me, that we are all on the same team. We are all trying to discern what is best for the Church we love so much. That there shouldn’t be winners and losers. We’ll see how well I listen to my own advice over the next 10+ days.
Finally we are called to be the Church. We are not a governmental body know matter how much governance and politicing we actually do. “All our meals and all our living makes as sacraments of thee, that by caring, helping, giving we may true disciples be. Alleluya! Alleluya! We will serve thee faithfully.” Those of us gathered in Indianapolis have a remarkable opportunity to be the Church in the world. The way we treat one another, the way we treat the employees of the restaurants, hotels, and the convention center where we will gather. Everything we do – “all our meals and all are living” – are outward examples of the God we serve.
It is my hope and prayer that we embark on this 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church remembering that we are living sacraments of God. May all we do honor God and one another both as we gather and as we go forth. Pray for us!