May 12, 2016

Cross-smby Shelly Webb Each day as we gather at the Oregon Convention Center, every person entering the building has to slow down as we approach the numerous doors.  It's here where we find ourselves in the security line and willingly open our bags, our purses, our book bags, exposing what's inside.  There are security people who sift through the bags, shifting the half eaten granola bars, the car keys, the money.  Then we walk another ten feet and put our bags down.  We hold out our arms and we stand there in the form of a cross.  The guard moves the wand around our bodies, looking for potentially dangerous objects that may be concealed.  I know it will locate the metal objects, but will it expose our buried prejudices, our unwilling hearts to listen, our inflated egos and propensity to judge?  Will it uncover our fears and our lost hope This image strikes me with such a powerful statement.  No one gets into the building without first standing at the doors with outstretched hands.  The body shaped as a cruciform, willing to be vulnerable and humble, willing to embrace the beautiful and the ugly, the laughter and the cries, the joy and the heartache. Bishop Gregory Palmer's Episcopal Address was a gift to the church.  I imagined Bishop Palmer, walking up this morning to the ginormous convention center and pausing in the security line.  Outstretched arms.  Ready to embrace his sacred task of addressing the body as one of our episcopal leaders. And he poured himself out in a bold and prophetic way, showing us what I believed to be the will of God for this conference.  If you didn't get the opportunity to watch it live, you can read about it here Episcopal Address.  Hopefully they will post the link to the video. He spoke of Jewish mysticism that tells how each of us have an angel whose only responsibility is to announce as we approach another person and their angel "Behold, you are about to meet the image of God". I am going to try to listen to my angel as I walk the halls this week, as I sit and listen to people's stories, and as I discern how to vote. As Bishop Palmer said, “Everyone here is a child of God. Any behavior to the contrary of that truth undermines the Gospel and is a choice to live beneath our privilege" Amen!  Rev. Shelly Webb is a reserve clergy delegate from Brevard, NC and is also writing regularly during General Conference at Compost for the Soul