Back in seminary I learned the Presbyterian phrase decently and in order and it made my heart pitter-patter. Presbyterian Polity remains one of my favorite classes. In fact, my polity professor is here at GA and I greeted them with a hug. It was my polity professor who introduced me to the National Association of Parliamentarians, an organization I joined last year after passing the entrance exam, which is full of people who enjoy learning and using Robert’s Rules of Order.
Day Three of GA is full of opportunities for me to see parliamentarians and moderators at work. The committee I am serving on is charged with observing the other committees to help plan the docket for the plenary sessions. That means we divide up and sit through committee meetings, coming back together to report and plan on how to organize the work that must come before the whole assembly. I not only get to see parliamentary procedure in my committee, but also another committee, and the plenary sessions. For me, these days of committee work are practical experience of Presbyterian Polity and Robert’s Rules, two topics I enjoy. Not only do I get to observe and reflect on these topics, I also get to drink coffee, text others for updates, and visit with others. GA is not a vacation, it is work, but this is work I enjoy, which means I am loving this day.
Even so, today I hit a wall, which if you have attended work trips you know Day Four of travel is often a hard day. Today is the fourth day since I left home and by this afternoon I was feeling the Day Four symptoms. Symptoms include, but are not limited too, tired brain, eyes, and heart (also known as feeling prickly). Day Four symptoms often need to be felt and expressed before they mellow out.
After some coffee and visits with our YAAD, staff member, and advocate, I was ready to work again. My Day Four symptoms lessened because I was heard, seen, encouraged, and loved. Robert’s Rules and our Presbyterian Polity are both grounded in making sure voices are heard, acknowledged, and responded to with respect. We laugh about our phrase decently and in order but it is our faithfulness to this vision that allows us to hear voices we may not want to hear, agree with, or know existed. Listening with respect allows for compassion to grow and relationships to be nurtured, which in turn glorifies God.
We may never know when a person is enduring Day Four symptoms, or how long they have been feeling those symptoms, but if we approach them with respect, our mutual compassion will grow, our relationships will be nurtured, and God will be glorified. Thanks be to God that we have the opportunity and charge to live decently and in order. May God continue to change us and the world through us.