Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On the seventh day, Bishop Chilton rested (a little)

Very Dear Mainers,

If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll confess that today (Tuesday 7/22), I skipped the daily 7:15 AM Eucharist and slept in. Mike and I are staying in the Park Wood residences, a good 20 minute walk to the main campus. The past few days have been filled with dashing back and forth, and it all got to be too hectic. So, I decided to catch up on my rest. I woke up in time to get to main campus for a fast croissant and coffee before my Bible Study Group began at 9:15 AM.

Our Bible study today covered Jesus' wondrous "Bread of Life" discourse in John 6:1 -14 and 25 - 59. My group of 8 (from every corner of the Anglican Communion, from Japan to Sudan to Tanzania to Aberdeen to Jamaica to Dallas...) reached a very deep level of sharing from our hearts as we talked about Christ's presence when we stand at the altar to celebrate the Eucharist. We all took special note of the hands which are extended across the altar rail to receive the Bread of Life -- we told each other about tiny hands, callused hands, arthritic hands, earth-stained hands, finger-missing hands (quite common in Maine: the too-frequent result of lumbering/milling accidents) and trembling hands. I was delighted to learn that all the bishops in my group support the receiving of communion by our children. We differ a bit as to how much/what kind of First Communion preparation is appropriate, but we are all clear about offering the Body and Blood of Christ to people of all ages.

Our Bible Study groups are folllowed by tea (that sturdy English custom I spoke of in an earlier post) and then by our Indaba Groups. Great things happened today in the Indaba Group which I am facilitating (the term for an Indaba Group facilitator is "animateur", roughly translatable as "animator", which denotes -- rightly -- a rather full job description). Members of the group were quite outspoken about wanting MORE TIME to just "tell each other our stories". They were feeling too "regimented" by the Indaba process and its rather structured format. What a huge blessing: bishops who want to be free to just talk to each other without time limits or "next activities"! Bishops wanting more time to share with one another from their hearts! God is so good.

Yes, we are beginning to identify the tensions amongst us; nothing is being swept under the carpet. We have some very hard work to do. But there is a good, faithful and loving feeling amongst the bishops so far. Your prayers are helping us and we count on those prayers as we move forward.

My love and prayers to you all "back home", in Christ,

1 comment:

Cathy Dempesy said...

Many of us here in the Diocese of Western New York are following the conference through your (and +Stephen's) eyes. Thanks for the thoughtful reflections. All of you remain in our prayers at the Cathedral.
Peace to you, my friend--