We have been welcomed home.
The deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth have been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome we have been receiving at General Convention. From the personalized gift bags from “our friends in the Diocese of Rochester” when we checked in to the affectionate handclasps when we got our deputy badges to strangers in hallways, the message has been the same—“We are so glad you are here. We need you in our church.”
It is, of course, an echo of Paul’s metaphor of the Body – one part cannot be lopped off without the entire body suffering.
And while we from Fort Worth are touched deeply by the gifts we have been given, we know we come offering a gift to our beloved church as well.
Episcopalians in Fort Worth are living into a new and deeper understanding of what Paul was talking about. We are learning that even if part of the Body chooses to leave, the entire body suffers. There is a wound left behind that will ache for a long long time.
But perhaps the most important learning we in Fort Worth can bring to the Church is that when the Body excludes part of itself, the Body is crippled, off balance, and dangerously vulnerable to losing its way.
We know firsthand the cost of exclusion, of scapegoating. Most of all we know the devastating and distorting affect of fear on love. Fear clouds thinking. Fear makes it hard to see hope. Fear closes the Body down and cuts off creativity.
Fear’s best friend is the word “no” – no to risk-taking, no to change, no to those who challenge or ask questions, no to anyone who is the slightest bit different from the people in charge.
Worst of all, fear causes the Body to turn its back on the Holy Spirit.
What is it God’s angels always tell us? Fear not, for you are not alone!
Let us remember that.
And then let us welcome home all those the Body has chosen to exclude.