|The Rev. Melody Shobe (far L) with the RI Deputation & Bishop Elect Knisely|
I have been excited to take my place in the councils of the Church. I have been excited to see old friends and make new ones. I have been excited to share my voice and to listen to the voices of others who have very different views. Today, in particular, was exciting, as we heard members of the Official Youth Presence speak passionately and eloquently about their hope for, and commitment to, our Church. It was an exciting day, as the House of Deputies passed a resolution urging the sale of our offices in New York City so that we can be a more nimble church in this new age. It was an exciting day for the Diocese of Rhode Island, as we escorted Bishop-elect Nicholas Knisely from the House of Deputies to take his place in the Hosue of Bishops. It was an exciting day as we prayed together, worked together, and played together: diverse Episcopalians from across our great Communion.
|RI Deputies Escort Bishop Elect Knisely to take his HOB seat|
I have heard a great deal of that kind of zero-sum talk here at General Convention 2012. People are pitting structure and mission against one another, with what is given one taken away from the other. Some talk of a sort of tension of power between clergy and laity, or between the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. Others worry that the inclusion of more youth will be balanced by an exclusion of those who are older. Members are concerned that smaller committees mean less representation.
I understand the perspective and the fear; I will confess I have played that zero-sum game all too often myself. But when we talk that way we are getting it all wrong. Because we don’t believe in a zero-sum God. We follow Jesus, who wasn’t about either/or, but about both/and. That is the message so deeply imbedded in the Gospels: is the kingdom of God now or not yet? It is both/and. Is salvation for Jews or Gentiles? It is both/and. Is God’s love for you or me? It is both/and. Something given one is not taken away from the other. Our God is a God of both/and. Our God doesn’t operate in zero-sums. In God, 3=1. For Jesus, 5+2 (loaves and fishes)= more than enough to feed 5,000. It doesn’t make sense, it defies computation, but somehow, it is deeply and completely true.
I’m hoping that, as I move forward into General Convention, I will resist the urge to play a zero-sum game. Whenever possible, I want to resist the temptation to say either/or, but instead follow Jesus in the path of both/and. I don’t think that it will simply change the conversation or change my perspective. I believe that it might just change my heart.