As I sit here in my room at the Assembly Inn in Montreat, I have been blessed with a few days to regroup and relax after General Assembly without any significant role here at the Church Unbound event.
One thing that I have been able to do is sit back a bit and listen to much of the conversations regarding decisions made at the GA. Granted I am listening mostly though blogs posts, individual conversations and comments, but listening nonetheless.
In a short time – can it be only a week? – I have been praised, vilified, challenged and affirmed. My favorite is to have been compared to both Tiger Woods and Barack Obama. Where is my paycheck, I say 😉
Many of you have offered notes of concern for how I will survive* and I thank you, but the reality is that I take all of this in stride. I know most of it is NOT personal and firmly believe that as Moderator of the entire denomination, people’s struggles are rightly directed my way. It is OK. I’ll be fine.
What I do take to heart is what I am hearing, and generally it has been two-fold.
One, I hear that for many there is great hope for who the PC(USA) may be becoming. Some folks clearly applaud decisions made, the tone of the Assembly itself and are intrigued that someone like myself could get elected. Some are cautiously optimistic that our denomination is moving into a new day and a new way of being church.
And still others are deeply pained because of the decisions that were made. There is great anger, feelings of betrayal and disappointment. Many feel like we have turned our back on the truth and have sent a signal to some parts of the family that they are no longer welcomed. On more than one blog, people have said, they are done.
So now what do we do? After a few weeks and months will we be able to see this from a distance? Should we even strive to do that? What does this mean for unity now and in the future?
I am not sure, but what I do hope is that people will be able to make thoughtful choices about how they will engage the church in grace-filled ways. Leaving, staying, fighting, whatever . . . all can be done while still valuing the Christ in the other and treating the other with dignity . . . even if that is not the way we ourselves are being treated.
So above all, I hope that we can at least remember that we are all part of God’s beloved community. In the midst of the intellectual, emotional and spiritual battles, I hope we will remember to see one another as a brother or sister in Christ simply striving to discern the will of God for us in the place and this time.
Keeping this in mind during my weakest moments in the only way I will not simply survive the moderatorial experience, but be able to play a positive role in the movement of the church.
This is my hope and my prayer today. Peace to you all.
*Prayers for my family and our continued spiritual growth are always welcomed.