Where was Christ present for you?
Certainly, this is an interesting question for Reed to ask me after my return from General Convention in Austin. It might be assumed that Christ would be all over such a deeply religious gathering.
But the Westboro Baptist Church people of Topeka, Kansas were at a couple of the Convention events armed with their harsh signs and slogans, representing a strikingly different Christianity. I don't think Christ was walking with them unless to whisper in their ears the need for transformation. In contrast the Christianity espoused by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of infinite love and was present throughout this triennial business meeting of the Episcopal Church even when controversial issues were discussed.
Christ was present at Convention in the incredibly varied and enriching worship, the testimony at legislative committees and during legislative sessions, and in the public witness at the Hutto Detention Center and the Bishops United Against Gun Violence Rally. I will mention two occasions when I felt Christ 's presence.
On my second night of the Convention I attended the Union of Black Episcopalians 50th Anniversary Gala. Michael Curry had referred to all of us as strangers seeking a homeland in his opening remarks to Convention, and I felt a stranger as I entered the huge room and sat down at one of those large round tables, which were reserved for individual attendees.
Almost immediately a woman and her husband joined me. How amazing that the woman had grown up in Bethlehem, NH and her husband right across the river in Vermont. They now live in San Francisco. They kept calling people over and soon the table was filled with bishops, deputies, and spouses.
We ate and chatted as music was sung, awards were given, and elders of the group were remembered. Through all of this, participants all around me kept jumping up to greet friends. As the evening closed, I felt that although initially a stranger, I had been called closer to home, and experienced a tiny taste of Beloved Community.
On the last night in Austin, after the New Hampshire deputation had a fun meal at Uncle Julio's Tex Mex restaurant, Bishop Rob asked if we wanted to go see the bats.
When a major bridge over the Colorado River was rebuilt, the design included niches that have become home to a large colony of bats. Every evening at dusk, they fly from the bridge in search of food.
The sidewalks on both sides of the bridge as well as the river walk under the bridge were covered with hundreds of Austin residents and visitors waiting, on this evening for over thirty minutes, to see the bats. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight to see all these healthy bats fly from the bridge.
But I was additionally moved that so many people ventured out on a warm evening to see such a marvel of nature. I had hope that these people were or would become warriors for the care of God's creation.
Christ walked with me at General Convention.
Marti Hunt, NH Lay Deputy, Alternate I