Here is the text from my opening statement on Saturday for the General Assembly Moderator Election. Did anyone get it on video suitable to upload to Youtube? Let me know. In the mean time . . .
INTRODUCTION – my FAMILY
The Lord be with You. Response
As I stand here before you today after having lived the life of “candidate for moderator” over the past six months, I can tell you that more than once I have said to myself, both out loud and in my head, “What are you thinking?” The very idea that I, this 39-year-old, father of three, earring wearing, pastor of some funky urban new church should or could stand for moderator is utterly ridiculous.
And then I think about my family.
I think about my grandparents who, in the 1940’s, came to the United States from the Philippines, gifted me with my Presbyterian roots and, through their work, sacrifice and hope, dreamt for the next generation, blessings even beyond their own imagination.
They would not think this is ridiculous at all.
Despite great cultural and social obstacles of the day, when it came to the future of their family, they embodied the words that were spoken to Abraham as he and Sarah balked at the possibility of birthing the future at such an advanced age. They were reminded that, nothing is too hard or too wondrous for God.
My wife and I find those words comforting as we think about the future of our own family. We certainly have high expectations and hopes for our three young daughters, but even dreaming about their future is frightening in today’s world. We want so desperately to know, to understand and to protect them as they move into the next stages of their lives. But the world, as you know, is changing so fast and in so many ways that we as parents must come to grips that we may never fully understand what the future holds for them.
But yet, like the generations before us, we too are compelled to trust in God because we have been reminded again and again in Scripture and in life that, in the face of our own fears, doubts and insecurities, nothing, nothing is too hard or wondrous for God.
our PRESBYTERIAN FAMILY
Our Presbyterian family is not much different. We too have fears, dreams and expectations for the next generation. Brothers and sisters, I ask you tonight, as we gaze into the future,
- What are God’s dreams for the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
- What are the dreams we have for those who have yet to experience Christ through our ministry?
- What are the dreams that are even beyond our own imagination?
- What do we think is too hard or too wondrous for God?
As we try to answer these questions for our church family, we do this in the same rapidly changing world that frightens anyone striving to embrace and nurture the next generation. This is a context that is drastically different than the world and culture that you and I are used to. And while there are certainly some things in the world that need to be confronted, our church family must take seriously new ways communities interact about life, faith and culture.
- We hear voices that have moved from mere tolerance of opinion to genuine appreciation of the other.
- We see discernment that no longer demands loyalty to simplistic polemics of liberal or conservative ideology.
- We experience moments when the embracing of common values is greater than even those things that seem to be unconquerable disagreements.
- We are inspired by dreams, hope and change that are not merely lofty goals, but realities woven in the fabric of life and faith.
These are the new realities of being family and community today. If the church responds to these realities by stepping out in faith rather than clinging to survival, just imagine what our church could look like in this new day, this new world, this new time, this new opportunity to be Christ in the world.
- To be a church family that thrives more on the nature of our relationships than the number of dollars or members we report;
- To be a church family that is joined together by the covenantal bond of Christ rather than the contractual relationship of property or pension;
- To be a church family that sees God’s best in one another before being so sure of our human worst.
- To be a church family that cares more about being faithful than being right;
If we, the church, can embrace these ways of being and these ways of interacting, I have no doubt that we will be able to live into a future in which we are a vibrant and inspiring presence in the world.
As I stand before you my friends, my family, our church, despite the obstacles in our path, the questions we are afraid to ask, the human brokenness that gets in our way, I would not be standing here today if I did not believe that God has great things in store for this Presbyterian family.
If you are so led by the Holy Spirit to elect me as your moderator, know that I will bring all my passion, hope, energy and commitment to this family and our journey together.
For if we simply open ourselves up to the possibilities of the future, we will not only dream our wildest dreams, but together, compelled by the grace-filled life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will know, live and share those dreams with one another and with the world.
For again, my sisters and brothers, my Presbyterian family, as we move into the future, believe at the core of your soul, nothing, nothing, nothing is too hard or wondrous for God. AMEN.