Wow! Summer has arrived in Virginia clothed in all her fiery, humidity-driven misery! Ever since I left California, I have had difficulty with extreme heat. I thought the heat in Charleston, South Carolina was the worst I’d experienced, even worse than in Florida, until I moved to Virginia. Out here in the north central piedmont, we do not get the breezes off the ocean, nor do we have the altitude of the mountains to provide lower temperatures. At night, the temperatures cool down, but are not deserving of the adjective, “cool”. At least Charleston had a breeze from time to time down near the point where the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. (That last bit is true; ask any local the next time you visit there; they’ll tell you!) This week, the temps have not gone below 65 at night, nor have they stopped climbing during the day in the comfortable seventies; not even the 80’s, no, today, they shot right up past the century mark! We’ve been promised thunderstorms on a daily basis, but alas, none have materialized in our area.
It was a scant four months ago that we had over two feet of snow piled up in our yard, and as it melted, the ground became very soft. (I am reminded that I have difficulty with extreme cold, too!) The mud was strong enough to literally pull the shoes off one’s feet! The same muddy area is now just a bunch of cracked and dusty clay. All the bodies of water to which I am routinely a witness are way, way down. The Rappahannock has a “sandbar” reaching almost from bank to bank in the mornings when I cross the Chatham Bridge on my way into the beautiful city of Fredericksburg’s old town area. We could really use some rain - - not the afternoon thunderstorms that sends brief, torrential downpours only to stop within a few minutes, and the water running down the hill taking topsoil along with it. We need a good, soaking, gentle, all day shower that lasts for a full day or two.
The parched, dusty ground and ever diminishing bodies of water that I see every day remind me of the encounter our Lord had with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, record in the 4th chapter of John’s gospel. It was the heat of the day, and Jesus was tired, hot and probably a bit thirsty; he had sent his traveling companions ahead to make the preparations for the evening’s sojourn. While He’s resting there, a Samaritan woman brings her water jar to the well. She is unnamed and nothing is known about her beyond what the passage eventually describes, but she suffers from a dryness of the soul, and of course, Jesus knew it. In the course of their conversation and her providing him with a drink of water, Jesus told her everything she had ever done - - all her foibles, warts and other blemishes of the soul - - yet, offered her the kingdom by saying that all who drank of the water she pulled from the well would thirst again, but those who drank of His Living Water would never thirst again. The woman saw the wisdom in accepting the gift, as she recognized that Jesus was, at minimum, a prophet, and might actually be the Messiah, and so she ran to tell her acquaintances in the town. Some believed based on her story, others followed, heard Jesus and believed.
On Friday, I will board an airplane heading for the General Assembly meeting in Minnesota to which I have referred before in this venue. I am excited and anxious, hoping that God will guide me in the decisions I have to make, even in the comments I may have for topics at hand in committee. It is my fervent hope that I will be able to have such clear direction that I will wonder why on earth I was ever unsure. (That’s the dryness in my soul at the moment.) I am hoping that out of my heart indeed will come the “rivers of living water” promised by our Lord, and recorded in John 7:38.
I plan to share herein some information each day as the meetings proceed next week. I do ask that you hold all of us - - the commissioners, delegates, and presbyters - - in your prayers as we go about our work starting Saturday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 10th. Please pray for our safe travels into and out of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Most importantly, please pray that the Holy Spirit take up residence in our hearts, that our discussions are filled with agape rather than rancor; that we are able to provide a clear message from the General Assembly to the members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. This message will have to do with the mission of the church according to the direction of the Holy Spirit and how it has guided us to be a denomination of the larger body of Christian believers in the United States. This message will somehow inform us as the PC(USA) how we are to go about being part of the Church IN the world, but not OF it. May we truly glorify the Lord, and enjoy Him forever! Let the rivers flow!