Today, we gathered in our opening Eucharist to liturgically open the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis. In the room were thousands of Episcopalians, perhaps the largest such gathering since the last Convention three years ago. In this Eucharist we celebrated the lives and ministry of Walter Rauschenbusch, who came to believe that Jesus died “to substitute love for selfishness as the basis of human society” and boldly pointed out our “social sins” which Jesus bore on the cross, which included greed and political power;, and Washington Gladden, who was dedicated to the realization of the Kingdom of God in this world; and Jacob Riis, who did much to awaken the nation to the plight of the urban poor. With those great prophets on our minds and hearts, we celebrated Eucharist. However, this Eucharist was less to me, because in this liturgical expression we once again incarnated the reality of one of, if not our most pressing, spiritual issue for us as Western Christians, and Episcopalians: we failed to take any monetary offering.
I knew there would be many excuses for this, perhaps logistics, there were just so many present that it could not be done, or one I hear often, we are being “nickeled and dimed to death.” In fact, when asked, a few of the worship team stated that they had to “cut time” and this would have added four minutes. Four minutes.