A quiet day on the floor, so we slept and did some sightseeing. The drama is over for now, and Goodsoil Central is quiet.

Bridget has rejoined us after several days at a Danish Lutheran convocation somewhere in central Minnesota. We had hoped to have our full Grace contingent together for a final night celebratory dinner, but Hal had to go back to work yesterday. We were never all together here at the same time, but the presence of each was felt throughout, as was your prayerful presence at home.

We do return home tomorrow, leaving after the assembly's closing worship in the morning, and after the noon closing business session.

It has been an exhausting, emotional, and anxiety-filled week, even as we did our best to rely on the movement of the Holy Spirit and on the words of Bishop Hanson's opening sermon which encouraged us to not be victims of fear, but it was hard. It is still a rather anxious time now, even as our celebration continues. The threat of schism still hovers (although I don't personally believe that it will be widespread), and we remain in prayer for those in pain. I look forward to the Bishop's parting words. As I've said before, if any human has the potential to hold this church together, I have full faith that it is he.

This is not the first time, by far, that the Christian communion has faced schism. As far back as the early apostolic church, there were heated disagreements over the outreach to the Gentiles, and yet they held together. In our own time, decisions to support the integration of our churches, the validity of inter-racial marriage, and the ordination of women threatened the Biblical understanding of many Lutherans, and yet we are still here. It is my conviction that, while we may see some people leave the ELCA, the unity of the church will be, by and large, held intact. The bottom line is that we all love this church and what it stands for, or we never would have even gotten to this point. If we did not love this church, people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities and their allies would have left long ago. And I believe that opponents of full inclusion will largely hold on, as well.

My overriding feeling at this point in this assembly's proceedings, even in my somewhat anxious place, is a strong feeling of the Spirit's gentle and loving presence. I believe that God is hurting with us and for us right now, and that the Divine pain will inevitably lead to Divine healing and reconciliation. God is at work here -- I have no doubt of that.

Laura B

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