GA – Day 6

5 07 2012

Yesterday’s meeting of the 220th General Assembly began with an ecumenical worship gathering, where readings from Micah 6 and Luke 4 reminded us of God’s call to be justice seekers and peace makers around the world.  So while Joey Chestnut and the “Black Widow” were stuffing their faces with Nathan’s hotdogs in NYC’s annual hot dog eating contest, commissioners in Pittsburgh were hearing God’s call to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind.  (I know how I’d prefer to celebrate to the birth of our nation!)

Ironically, at the end of worship, 99% of the assembly affirmed it’s faith using the words of the Nicean Creed.  But toward the end of the confession, people blindly and without thinking, they read the misprinted words in our worship order, proclaiming how Jesus rose in accordance with the Scriptures, and then “descended into heaven.”

I’ve been thinking about that alot over the past 24 hours, and have realized how easy it is for us to sometimes think that we’ve attained the things of heaven, but stooped too low to get there!  Sometimes, we go about seeking the things of God in ways that deny the very things we are seeking to attain.  And that was how our plenary session began yesterday afternoon.

Vice-Moderator Kara Spuhler McCabe was forced to resign her position due to malicious, inflamatory, and slanderous gossip being circulated around the assembly and out into our churches.  Last fall, Reverend McCabe signed the marriage liscence of a lesbian couple in her congregation in Washington, DC — something she made known in her during her candidacy, and something that a clear majority of our commissioners did not feel disqualified her from serving as Moderator.  Never the less, the nasty, disrespectful, and downright evil ways some went about seeking her removal from office simply has no place in the body of Christ.

Hopefully, this pattern will not continue today.  Hopefully, people will remember that the church is not a democracy, where commissioners listen to what people California and South Carolina want, and then act on what a majority of people want us to do.  The PC(USA) is NOT a representative democracy.  Yes, we do take votes, and we always strive to be mindful of the needs of the people in our pews.  But ultimately our desire is to discern the work and movement of the Spirit in our midst.  We come together and attempt to intelligently and respectfully listen to the voices of all, and then act according to what we believe to be God’s desire for us.

Prior to my departure, a member of Stone House asked me how I was gonig to vote on a particular issue.  And my response was not political or artificial, but grounded in my understanding of what gatherings like this are all about.  I said I don’t think it’s possible for me to know how I will vote because I’ve not yet been part of the discernment process that is such a critical part of GA.  Sure, I knew I was coming with opinions and thoughts on all of the issues that are before us; but in the end, each member of this and every assembly MUST carefully listen to the constantly-moving, ever-challenging, always-prophetic, and extravagantly-gracefilled voice of the Holy Spirit.  Only then do we dare cast a vote on an issue that is before us.  And once we do, we need to trust the voice of God.

Yesterday had plenty of heat and fireworks for me.  Today, I’m looking for that cool and refreshing wind of the Spirit — that still small voice of God — that can, and I believe WILL, lead me and the rest of my brothers and sisters, to those things that bring glory and honor to Jesus.

May that indeed be the case!  Amen!

 

 

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One response

5 07 2012
Tara

Amen, Bob. I’m not at GA, so even more grateful for your perspective/words. Tara

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