THE RIVER OF LIVING WATER
It is Friday night, and I have just packed my suitcase for the return trip to Virginia tomorrow. General Assembly has concluded the majority of its business, and as with most assemblies in recent years, some of the decisions we made were received well, while some were not. We will close as we began, in worship. Then we will depart and begin the real work of our jobs as commissioners.
By now, it is possible that you have read some accounts in the secular media about our work here. I am told we made the front page of the New York Times. The decisions we made might be questionable in your thoughts. I urge you to withhold making judgments about our work until you can talk directly to us, the commissioners. The secular press tries, God bless them, but unless they’re Presbyterians, they probably do not understand our processes. Unless they had listened to the testimonies in the open committee hearings, participated in the prayers and the Roberts Rules explanations, it is unlikely they understand it all well enough to write our story. It’s hard enough for us to explain what happened here. We are the church, and while religion editors of newspapers want to get these sensational headlines, we are called to be holy, set aside to glorify God, and not be conformed to the modes of secular society. We are the PC(USA) and our General Assembly speaks to the PC(USA) with regard to how we are to live, even as we are in the world. We are not to be of the world.
What I am taking away from the last few months of reading, and the past six days of intense deliberations and more reading, has been the experience of the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. There were impassioned pleas, there were stands taken, and yes, there were tears shed; there were also a lot of prayers for the gift of discernment, lots of hugs given, information imparted, friendships rekindled, laughter shared and other light-hearted moments such as the “Plenergizers” taught to the assembled adults of all ages by the Young Adult Advisory Delegates on Thursday and Friday afternoons. One was called “Istanbul” and the other was called the “Ants in your Pants Dance”. These young people are the present church, as well as the future, and we are truly, truly blessed to have them!
Our worship services were glorious. The opening service incorporated the music of a combined choir from the Twin Cities’ area, interpretive dance from different cultures - - a theme repeated on Friday morning - - and throughout the service, a “performance artist” creating a painting on black fabric, utilizing some type of paints in swirls of blues, golds, greens and whites; it was completed a little bit after the service was completed and once dried, was hung in the plenary hall for the remainder of the week.
We will finish our business meetings in the morning, and I’ll head out for the airport, where I will say “so long” to the Twin Cities and catch the flight back to Virginia. I think I will be leaving behind something of my self here, but hope I have put on something special here. I’ll get back to my routines next week, but I don’t think I’ll ever be quite the same again. This has been a life shaping experience. As surely as I poured the waters dipped from the confluence of the Rapidan, Robinson and Rappahannock Rivers into the pitchers that were poured out at the beginning of each worship service and each business session, rivers of living water will pour from my heart, because I am a believer. I am a Presbyterian