Yesterday was, by and large, a great day for The Episcopal Church. The House of Deputies accomplished quite a bit of business, including passing all 5 Episcopal Resurrection resolutions that came our way: D003, Amend Article V of the Constitution; D004, Task Force to Study Episcopal Elections; D005 Creating a Capacity to Plant Churches; D009, Revitalization of Congregations; and B009/D019, Conducting an Online Evangelism Test. By an overwhelming majority, we said that we wanted our Church to be about evangelism, making disciples, and sending apostles. Thanks to Deputy Melody Shobe from Rhode Island, we stopped short of replacing our Calendar of Saints, though we did make some changes to the criteria for inclusion on such a calendar a bit wider than I would like. Still, it was by and a large a good day except for one very uncomfortable moment of snark and back biting.
An amendment was made to a resolution calling on the Development Office of The Episcopal Church to focus its fundraising on evangelism. Deputy Van Brunt suggested that we not be so bold as to “direct” that office but rather to invite it to “consider” the opportunity. Things got ugly when another Deputy, whose name I can’t recall, made a 2 minute long speech that was full of passive aggression, snark, and vitriol. This was followed by a Deputy who poked fun at the previous Deputy’s speech and “considerable humor, but I wish to speak to the merits of this amendment.” It was a side time to be in the Church, when a young women rose with a Point of Order and asked the President of the House of Deputies to call on the Chaplain to pray about “how we are speaking to each other.”
In today’s Daily Office Lectionary as well as Track 2 for Proper 9, Year B, we are assigned Psalm 123, which includes these words, “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy, * for we have had more than enough of contempt…” The days are getting long. The topic of conversation will only get more controversial: structure comes today, as does substance abuse issue, and same-sex marriage will be before us tomorrow; and the words of the Pslamist from 123:4 should be on our lips repeatedly over the next few days. It comes to us as a double warning today, an invitation to think before we speak; an opportunity to give up contempt, passive aggression, and bitterness and to embrace the call of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves. Or, if the case requires it, the words of Psalm 123:4 might be a call to follow the command of Jesus an love our enemy.