Indeed there WAS a “Sweet, sweet spirit in this place” as we gathered this morning for the final Eucharist of this 78th General Convention. Presiding Bishop- elect Michael Curry was referring to his delight in discovering that the reading for today was the great commission….but that sweet, sweet spirit has been a part of this lengthy meeting, and walked right into the worship space with us in anticipation of hearing from our new leader, who was the scheduled preacher for the service, with Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori presiding.
The text of the sermon will be available online later today- as will, I hope a video so people back home can experience what those of us here in the Salt Palace experienced. In his opening remarks of appreciation, Bishop Curry paid tribute to Bishop Katherine,mas a woman of incredible ” courage and passion” – bringing one of many bursts of laughter and applause as he added parenthetically, ” her passion is a little different from mine”- and told the congregation that he would like to have a bit of her “cool.”
The sermon included quotes from Saint Paul, Max Lucado, Bishop Barbara Harris and Frank Sinatra, along with gospel hymns perfectly fitting the message- from ” The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” , and stories rich with meaning for the church today. Telling of the calling of St. Peter as shown in the trailer for the movie “Son of God”, the drama and pace of the story- telling , with imaginative byplay of what Peter might have been thinking as this carpenter advised the experienced fisherman about where to cast his nets, since what he had been doing was not working, would pause ever so briefly for an aside– ” a parable for the church? More on that later…”
The message was clear. We are a part of the JESUS movement, regardless of our age, the color of our skin, our politics, traditionalist or progressive….and we are called to change the world from the nightmare it can be to God’s dream. The marching orders were clear: ” GO!” Live out the great commandment.
The hymns for the day gave powerful support to the message. We are called. I am called. You are called. We can make a difference in a world desperately in need of the love of God and of each other.
Before the closing hymn, Bishop Katherine read a message thanking Bishop Curry for the leadership he has shown throughout in ministry, ending with the belief that in this new role he would continue leading toward the America we know is possible. When the signature ” Barack Obama” was read, the congregation came to its feet again. It seemed to speak of the hope and excitement in the air here.
I was not the only one alternating between belly laughs and tears of Hope and joy throughout this service. There are hours still to go before the business for which we came is concluded. God’s business is clearly all around us, and goes with us as we head home to the various places in which we live and work.
“Glory, glory alleluia
Glory, glory alleluia
Glory, glory alleluia
Our God is marching on!”