There is at least one thing that has greatly impacted the experience of General Conference that I only just realized I have failed to mention thus far. Worship.
Worship has been absolutely amazing. From opening worship with both amazing music, an incredible sermon, and the awesome opportunity to share communion served by the bishops with a couple thousand others, worship is the one thing that has consistently been holy and awesome and life-giving. We have prophets among us, folks!
As with all other going-ons, I believe the highlight of the great sermons we've heard was that of the prophetic voice of Bishop Minerva Carcaño. She preached about reaching to the outcasts and named things like immigration. She made bold statements, such as "Jesus is not an American, German, Filipino, Liberian, or even Nazarene. Nor is Jesus beholden to U.S. immigration policies or the policies of any nation."
Several times during her sermon, she had to break to make room for the abundance of applause that broke out. The cameras showed both enthusiastic, supportive smiles and cheers, and upset, arms-folded-across chest folks who couldn't believe what they were hearing.
What do I believe? Well, for starters, I know this Good News she brought us was prophetic. I know she is right in saying that the kingdom of God is greater than any national boarder we have adopted, and that it can overcome even any fences we may build. We may live in America. On some level, its important to be a "good American" (though many of us would certainly differ on definitions of that), yet there are things that are far more important. It is of utmost importance that we are - first and foremost - good followers of Christ who are reaching out to our brothers and sisters across the world, whether those in Africa or Europe or islands in the sea... or in our border nation of Mexico (or Canada... but as she pointed out, we don't seem too worried about building a fence on the northern border).
An unexpected phone call made me late this morning, so rather than attending worship, I had the opportunity to spend time in the prayer room (for those of you who are here and haven't been there yet... you should check it out. Its beautiful). Therefore, I did not make it to worship this morning for the first time. With that exception, I can say that all of our worship has been absolutely amazing, and I have truly been convicted by the words our Bishops have brought to us. I have been equally blessed by the coordination of the rest of worship, including through skits and through music led by Marcia McFee and Mark Miller. Singing in the seminary choir was great... and I'm looking forward to partaking in worship yet again with the young adult choir on Wednesday morning.
Worship. The center of our lives. The center of our conferencing. The center of what makes this conference HOLY. Transcripts are being printed in the DCA every day... which probably means it can be found online, etc. (I don't know where). I recommend you check it out. Even if it isn't quite the same as getting to be hear and feel the Spirit move with the words, I hope you can get a glimmer of the hope we are sharing and experiencing this week.