This afternoon, a tornado touched down in the environs of the Convention Center in Minneapolis. Within minutes, I stepped outside to find trees uprooted, chairs, tent, and debris strewn about from the outdoor pub set up at Central Lutheran across the street. Some chairs were found atop the four story convention center. The traffic light stanchion was bent to a 75 degree angle. No injuries reported.
Inside, debate continued on the floor of the ELCA Convention. The Sexuality Statement was under discussion.
“Let us go across to the other side,” Jesus said to his disciples. The other side of Lake Galilee was the land of foreigners — unclean Gentiles, according to the traditions of the Hebrews. But a nighttime crossing was dangerous and an unseen storm might come upon them.
This is the story told in Mark, and the gospel text for the Goodsoil service at Central Lutheran this evening. A thousand or more filled the old church pews and the balconies, and heard the sermon of The Rev. Barbara Lundblad, Associate Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary of New York. (I feebly attempt to paraphrase her prophetic words here). When the wind whistled down the gullies of the Galilean countryside, the small boat was tossed about, and Jesus’ disciples were afraid. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Late this afternoon, near suppertime, the tornado and ensuing rainstorm had passed, and the sun peaked through the clouds. Inside the convention center, the amendments had been considered, the arguments had been raised, and the question was called. 1,014 voting members cast their electronic ballots. The measure required a 2/3 majority to pass, or 676 votes. The votes were tallied, and the totals announced: 676 votes for, 338 against. The measure passed, but without a single vote to spare.
Mark’s story continues: “Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.”
It was a joyous celebration at Central Lutheran this evening; I admit it, I choked up at times –during the procession of more than a dozen gay clergy, at the sight of former Presiding Bishop Herb Chilstrom, at the sometimes soft and sometimes boisterous songs, while tasting the bread and the wine, and while exiting to the pealing bells. And then, too, when the young gay man finished the Scripture reading from 1st Corinthians:
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you, you, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I will long remember the joy of this night and sharing the bread and the wine with so many children of God.