Saturday, November 23, 2019

OMG ... And Then There Were Five!

I forgot they were electing a new bishop today in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

Between the intense news cycle of the Impeachment Hearing Week past and the clean up I've had on my plate from our own Diocesan Convention last weekend and trying to remember where I put the Thanksgiving decorations before it's too late to find them and put them up I was quite literally busy and distracted by my many tasks.

And then my phone pinged with a text message from Jim White.

"Did you hear about Missouri? They elected Deon Johnson. On the first ballot!"

And all I could muster was OMG!

OMG ... what a difference a decade (or two or three or four) makes.

Booting up my laptop and catching up with the reports and videos and photos from Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis I was gobsmacked by muscle memory of having been there ... in that very same very holy space ... in November 2002 for the first Claiming the Blessing (CTB) conference.

It was the place we launched our initiative to "promote wholeness in human relationships, abolish prejudice and oppression, and heal the rift between sexuality and spirituality in the Church" -- and it marked  the beginning of years of intentional collaborative work by organizations and individuals within the Episcopal Church advocating for full inclusion of all the baptized in all sacraments of the church.

That was then: Members of the CTB leadership team making the case for blessing unions between same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church:

And this is now: The election on the first ballot of a married, gay man as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

Same church. Same chancel. Different day. OMG ... what a different day!

A week ago today I had the high honor of being the preacher at the 124th Convention Eucharist here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. One of the texts I preached from is what I've come to think of as the Gospel According to Margaret Mead ... and that text is "Never doubt that a small group of faithful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The world is in desperate need of changing and the church is not yet done with its own struggle with the full inclusion of all God's beloved into the beloved community.

Nevertheless ... today is a day to pause and rejoice.

Today is a day to recognize how far we've come on the journey to where God is calling us to go.

Today is a day to say TBTG for the Diocese of Missouri and mazel tov to Bishop-elect Deon Johnson -- who will become the 11th Bishop of Missouri and the 5th LGBTQ Bishop in the Episcopal Church: words I could not even have imagined typing in 2002 when we launched the CTB initiative from the cathedral where he was elected.

And today is a day to give thanks for every single member of every single small group of faithful, committed people who have changed this church from where we were in 2002 to where we are in 2019.  We may not be "there" yet ... but today is yet another incremental victory toward the audacious goal of Ed Browning's dream of church where there are no outcasts. 

Tomorrow we continue the struggle. But today we celebrate.

OMG ... Alleulia ... Amen.

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