Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12
We gathered for worship yesterday, a sea of bishops in red and a crowd of nearly 4,000 and it was a moving and powerful service. I found out in the evening that some small children were asked to leave. This was not an isolated incident, but a regular occurrence during this convention. This family is here as part of our deputation and part of our family. They have come to serve the church and yet sometimes the church ties too heavy a burden on these people's shoulders. And the children will lead us...
Jesus was only too aware of how the religious leaders controlled and burdened the people. Faith in God is not a matter of conformity but many who are in positions of power would have it so, then and now. We do not need to match to be God's people, nor do we need to be silent, stifled children, burdened with behaving like constrained adults. We ache for a growing and lively church and then shut out anyone or anything that might be a little messy. God's desire is for us to make room for the loud and the messy, the stranger and our enemies - a place for love and service. We are invited to give away our place, put aside our needs, for the sake of God's reign here on earth.
Prayer for General Convention 4
Wondrous source of love and welcome, may we be the people who are willing to be humble and servants of all. May our words and actions be those of welcome. May we open doors, give up our seats, stand down and offer our hands and hearts for the service of others. May we be shamed by our pride and be honored by our humility. May we be generous servants of the generous and loving God, who has made us all welcome, messy and loud as we might be. May we seek each other with open arms, crossing all boundaries to offer ourselves for the love of God. We ask this in Christ, who offered all. Amen