Our numbers began to shrink last night as airport departures began even in the midst of our boat ride. But the great majority of us assembled in the hotel lobby at 8:15 this morning and from there boarded two buses to take us the approximately four kilometers through heavy urban traffic to Christ Church for our closing celebration of the Eucharist. Christ Church dates back to the late nineteenth century, and was built for British expatriates. It remains a primarily English-speaking congregation, though, recently and for the first time, there is a native Thai priest on the staff, and Thai worship on Sunday afternoons. The church building is an interesting amalgam of a little bit of England transplanted to southeast Asia and distinctively Thai decorative and practical flourishes. It hosts what is reputed to be the only pipe organ in Thailand. Sadly, the instrument was not in use this morning. I would have loved to have heard it--perhaps even played it--and it would have gone well with the hymns we sang a capella.
There were refreshments in the parish hall following the liturgy--"light traditional Thai desserts", we were told. I did not find them appealing.
After getting back to the hotel I visited Bob the Tailor to talk about a couple of not-quite-right details in the jacket of my new suit. He promised to have it ready for me by six. After beginning to pack for the trip home, I joined my three American colleagues for lunch in the hotel restaurant--off the the menu, not the buffet. Surprisingly, while they all ordered pizza--definitely a comfort food--I found myself drawn to cashew chicken, Thai style. It was yummy. I'm suspecting my problem has not been with Thai cuisine sui generis, but with what the hotel serves in its buffet chafing dishes.
The consensus among the four Episcopal Church representatives here is that the trip was definitely worthwhile. It put our names and faces in front of people who might otherwise be tempted to forget about us or write us off. We want the Global South, which, let's face it, represents the overwhelming majority of the world's Anglicans, to be very clear that not all in the Episcopal Church are supportive of the communion-shattering and self-absorbed actions of recent General Conventions. There is a remnant. We need their encouragement and leadership as we endeavor to be a loyal but uncompromised minority party in our church for the indefinite future. We also have gifts to offer as partners in gospel witness and mission. In their world, the big challenge is militant Islam (and, in parts of India, militant Hinduism). In our world, it's rampant secularization. And both our worlds are challenged by nominalism and weak discipleship among Christians. Our vocation lies before us.
As I write, it's just past four in the afternoon, and for the first time since I've been here, I don't feel like taking a nap. My ride to the airport is not for another four hours. I may take a gentle walk, but don't plan on doing anything else exciting. So I will simply post this now, and go quiet in this space until I get home, which will be midday, central time, tomorrow.