Big Tables

The Reverend Sandy Webb is blogging from General Convention in Salt Lake City.

"Five to four," the General Convention staff radio crackled in my ear Friday morning. The message was unusual, and I didn’t understand what it meant. Normally, we only discuss pressing, work-related matters over the radio, but someone felt that we all needed to know this information right away. It was the first that I heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

The high court’s decision was promulgated less than an hour before our Day 2 worship service at the General Convention. Suddenly, that service needed to be all things to all people. Some people would enter the room filled with joy, others filled with sorrow. How could one service speak to both emotions? In that same moment, my heart returned to Memphis. Church of the Holy Communion is a diverse community. Some of our members will rejoice at this news while others will be deeply troubled. How can one parish church have enough room for both?

As I reflected on this question over the course of the day, one of my Worship Team colleagues reminded me of a certain translation of Psalm 23: "He sets a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me." In other words, God’s table is supposed to be a diverse one. God does not set a table before us in the presence of those who agree with us, in the presence of those whom we would gladly have at our own tables, but in the presence of those who trouble us, those whom we can love only by the grace of God.

I am writing this reflection from the presider’s seat on the worship platform in Salt Lake City. The holy table before me is a large one – eight feet wide, six feet deep, four feet tall. It is the image that I need today, and one that I will bear with me as I seek to be a pastor to all of the people entrusted to my care.

At the General Convention, I believe that we made the right decision about how to approach worship this morning. We proceeded exactly as planned. We carried on with the work that had been given to us to do, in just the same way that we had always intended to do it. Friday was already scheduled to be a celebratory day, and we let it be. Saturday is intended to be more contemplative, and we will let that be as well.

Our approach in Memphis should be just the same: Continuing to do the good work that God has given us to do, in the faithful and dedicated way that Holy Communion has always done it. One of the things that I love most about Church of the Holy Communion is that we have room in our pews for people who honestly and prayerfully disagree with one other. Our diversity is what makes us beautiful, and our commitment to respecting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ is what makes us who we are.

Posted by Cara Modisett at 4:57 AM
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