June 30, 2015
Thousands of people from across the United States have hunkered down in Salt Lake City for the triennial General Convention. It is an intense, marathon-length, sprint-pace gathering for leaders of the church to make decisions about policy, direction, and finances. We worship together each day and connect in convention center hallways and at exhibit booths.
And sometimes Jesus shows up. (To be more accurate, Jesus is always here; sometimes we recognize him.) Forward Movement invited people to share their Jesus encounters, using the hashtag #JesusAtGC, and there have been some wonderful encounters. Of course, we have experienced some big-Jesus moments, like the historic election of North Carolina’s bishop, Michael Curry, as the next presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. This is a man who loves Jesus and isn’t afraid to tell others about it. His election and leadership will galvanize and inspire the wider church, and I’m excited to see the plans God has for us through Bishop Curry.
I have seen Jesus in the tears of joy after the Supreme Court handed down its decision for marriage equality. And I certainly saw Jesus in the eyes of two men whose marriage I was privileged to witness just a day later.
One of the big lessons of General Convention (and life) is to see Jesus not only in mountaintop moments but also in the everyday. In the kindness of holding a door open or picking litter off the floor. In a pat on the back after a long day, a warm smile, a needed compliment.
For me, this everyday experience of Jesus was epitomized by the gracious act of one woman. The line for the book stretched across the aisle. We realized toward the end of the author’s signing that we had sold out of the books in 45 minutes, on day two of General Convention. In some ways, a good problem. But not helpful for the people in the back of the line. We promised to overnight more books and encouraged people to come back the next day. One gentleman came a bit late to the signing with a book he had purchased the day before. It was to be a gift, and he hoped to exchange it. The book had fallen and the spine had a mark on it. He wanted to present a pristine copy for the gift. I explained that we had completely sold out. His frustration rose. I told him I would be glad to exchange it the next day, but he was leaving that afternoon. I could tell he was upset, but I had no other option. Until the woman in front of him in line, who had purchased some of the last books, offered to exchange his copy for hers. She saw his distress and was willing to sacrifice to bring him comfort.
Perhaps this was a big-Jesus-moment, after all.
Where do you see Jesus? Are you looking?
Photo credit: Used with permission from Forward Movement, cartoon created by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham. To see more #JesusAtGC cartoons, visit facebook.com/FwdMvt