Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Knit Together

The saints went marching up to Tupelo for the 183rd Annual Council of the Diocese of Mississippi.  "The Challenge of Mission" was our theme for the weekend, which we spent praying and singing and talking about how God has called us as individuals and as a church to go out into the world.  For some that means traveling across oceans and even continents, visiting Episcopal and Anglican communities in the Sudan, Uganda, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Honduras, or Panama, to offer medical care or school supplies or simply to build meaningful mutual relationships.  For others it means walking down the street to welcome a homeless person into your parish hall where coffee and breakfast are served every morning.




(Yes, I knit a little during some of the business sessions, but then so did lots of other folks.  All the pictures in this post are their various projects, knit either for loved ones or as part of a prayer ministry in their community...)


We heard stories about how mission challenges us to think outside the box, to learn new languages, to embrace new traditions, and to open our hearts to people who seem, at least on the surface, very unlike ourselves.  One priest new to the diocese, by way of the Diocese of Minnesota, said that the Mississippi Delta has taught her that phrases like "might could" are as useful as "you betcha," and that sweet tea is far superior to its unsweetened counterpart.  Of course her reflection was light-hearted, but it revealed that even within our own country - and I suspect this is also true within our own states, even our own cities - there are diverse cultures and traditions to be learned and celebrated and respected.




There was tension at times, as there always is in families.  There is enough diversity of culture and tradition and belief within even our own Episcopal community that we are challenged to consider perspectives not our own, and to walk side by side with those with whom we disagree because, as Bishop Gray reminded us, the simplest creed is this: Jesus is Lord.  Jesus reigns, and that reign was in his life and death and resurrection, and in the life of the church at its best, manifest in love.




And so it is love that knits us together.  I pray that we will continue to hold in graceful tension the many threads that make up our community of faith that is the Episcopal Church, and that within the Diocese of Mississippi we will take up more and more of those threads in our hands and hearts.  I would love for us to sing from our African-American hymnal, to say a prayer in Spanish, and to use more expansive language when we describe God.  Our failure to weave these threads and others like them into our worship is our greatest challenge to mission.  Praying shapes believing...




The saints went marching back home in time for the kick-off of a game that would bring not only Episcopalians but believers (and non-believers) of all stripes together.  We'll all get back to work now, here in the mission fields of our day-to-day lives, whether we travel far away or simply walk down the street.  Go in peace to love and serve...and to knit together in love...




2 comments:

Cathy said...

Beautifully said and illustrated...and where is your shawl?

Donna said...

We knitted away! The potos are great!