By Jessica Brodie (Photo by Matt Brodie)
Have you ever been utterly exhausted and made a really stupid mistake—the kind you’re still having to clean up? I was blessed to be a part of the excellent team of communicators covering the recent Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska Nov. 2-4. It was a Spirit-filled but grueling week filled with nonstop work and not enough sleep. When I got home, I needed to prepare for the workweek ahead, so I threw my laundry in the washing machine—literally, just dumped the entire basket in, added soap, slammed the lid, and pressed start. A half-hour later, I got a big surprise… my laundry was coated with tiny bits of globby white stuff.
Finally I discovered the culprit: I’d accidentally washed an entire thick magazine with my clothes. It took picking out as many globs of pulp as I could, plus five or six more cycles through the washer, to get all those bits mostly out. I only managed to ruin four items of what had been a huge load of laundry, so it wasn’t a total disaster. But let’s just say I’m never dumping laundry in the washer all at once anymore—and never while sleep-deprived.
But it got me thinking about what the apostle Paul was taking about in Galatians 5:9, when he pointed out how a “little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (NIV). Paul wasn’t happy about the new believers getting so worked up over the circumcision issue, which was that while he’d taught them salvation was God’s gift, some people were believing false teachings that Christians had to endure certain rituals, like getting circumcised, to earn salvation. He was upset the people had been taught soundly but now were being swayed by false teachings, which were dangerous because they spread so quickly, like yeast.
Now that I’m back from SEJ, I’m thinking about the lasting effects. Certainly, I’d love to be free of the lasting effects of the magazine I accidentally washed with my clothes. But what about the things I want to hold onto? Besides the new bishops we elected and the budget, besides the good news that we get to keep Bishop Holston a bit longer, what else can we seize onto, claim as a lasting effect?
For me, I’m heartened by a bit of seemingly small news that occurred at the conference: the creation of a task force to study the impact of racial bias in the episcopal nomination and election process. The task force will study the impact of this bias to reduce the harmful effects in the nomination and selection process for episcopal candidates, also interviewing recent and past candidates to hear of their experiences and solicit their input.
It’s too soon to tell what good will come out of this, but I think it’s a really important thing to explore with transparency the issues that can taint our elections. It speaks well of our process and of our church as a whole. I’m looking forward to learning what they discover.
How about you? What are you holding onto? What are you letting go?