The doors are closed, here at the refrigerated Intercontinental Hotel of New Orleans. The House of Bishops have begun their first conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and invited guests. We may hear a little bit about how that’s going at this afternoon’s media briefing. Immediately after that the Archbishop is set to make a visit to the Ninth Ward, scene of Katrina’s worst ravages. From there, most will go directly to the Morial Convention Center, where the Archbishop will preach at an interfaith service tonight.
Anyone looking for tealeaf readings so far would be hard-pressed to sense anything more than a big dose of bonhomie, complete with backslapping, handshaking and heartfelt hugs going the rounds. But there may be something in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schoir’s characteristically careful choice of words in her homily at this morning’s opening Eucharist.
Jefferts Schori reported that she has been reflecting a lot on “judgmental language” and how it cuts off the chance for conversation. “None of us is wholly free of blame for we have all sought to judge those who oppose us.” By contrast, she said “beloved is the word before each of our names.” She spoke of “outcasts among us who have not felt beloved,” and suggested that “we need to suspend judgment…and see God’s beloved before us.” Her closing words? “May we be peace for all who are gathered here and all those who await our actions.” Beloved. Peace. Not a bad place to start.