GA – Day 5

4 07 2012

While the rest of the country is celebrating our nation’s birthday, we at GA are preparing to return to plenary session.  A variety of overtures and recommendations will be coming before us — including a call to divest from companies doing business in Israel, a call for the GAMC to define what it means for a college or university to be “Presbyterian Affiliated” (from my committee!), and yes, the Committee on Marriage and Civil Unions is proposing that we enter into a two-year period of study for the purpose of clarifying our understanding of Christian Marriage.

Unfortunately, it was this last committee’s debate that I found extremely discouraging — and not because of WHAT was being discussed, but rather because of HOW it was being discussed.  For the most part people were civil and respectful; but some were extremely militant, and seemed to believe that they were in a court of law arguing before a judge, as opposed to working WITH brothers and sisters seeking to discern God’s desire for the Body.  The bottom line is that yes, we DO need to reconsider the church’s definition of marriage — and not only because we may need to change our understanding of a union that has historicall been only between a man and a woman, but because of the state of marriage in our country today.  Divorce is rampant.  Cohabitation is becoming the norm.  And the number of single parent families continues to rise.  For these reasons and many others, the Body of Christ has no choice to stop and consider it’s understanding of marriage, and to offer some leadership to our culture as it struggles with an understanding of what it is and what it is not.

Worship gave us the opportunity to hear a stirring message from Dr. Margaret Aymer about Jesus’ seeing peoples’ faith as opposed to any label that society might want to place upon them.  We then remembered elders who had, over the past year, “finished their race and who now rest from their labors,” and departed to a refreshing and uplifting rendition of “O Happy Day.”  Again I say — the best part of GA is worship, and our local churches have a great deal to learn about diversity, enthusiasm, and creativity.

So now, Chai in hand,  I’ll head over to today’s worship gathering, and then begin the day’s work.  While there is a great deal ahead, we won’t forget our nation’s birthday.  In addition to gathering on the roof of the convention center for evening fireworks, all of us are grateful we live in a land where we have the freedom to meet as we are — to decide for ourselves what we believe, and to consider again how God is calling us to live in the 21st century.  The Spirit is alive and well here in Pittsburgh — and I remain grateful for the opportunity to be here.





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