From the OT lesson for Wednesday in the week of Proper 6B (Pentecost 4, 2015)
1 Samuel 7
5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.”
6a So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord.
It feels like centuries ago, but it was only decades, I was an active lay person in the Diocese of Nevada when the late Wes Frensdorff was bishop. In the middle of Nevada is the town of Tonopah and in Tonopah is the Mizpah Hotel. Wes liked to hold diocesan committee meetings in Tonopah because it was a place mutually inconvenient to nearly everyone. This fortnight, the Episcopal Church is meeting in triennial General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, a place that nationally might be considered “mutually inconvenient” to nearly everyone. Today the work of the convention really starts. Yesterday, legislative committees met and organized. Today, they start to deliberate on numerous resolutions presented. This convention will deal with both internal affairs (electing a new Presiding Bishop, adopting a budget, possibly reorganizing the structure of the church, considering amendments to the canons and the church constitution). It will also deal with matters of import to the larger society, perhaps none larger the issue of marriage equality and how the Episcopal Church will minister to same-sex couples. I’m sure that many bishops and deputies will feel like they are doing battle with the Philistines, as the Israelites did at Mizpah. It is my prayer that when it all said and done we can look back at the work of the Convention and, like the Psalmist in today’s evening psalm, each one of us can say, “I have done what is just and right,” and like Samuel, we can raise an Ebenezer and say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”