Tonight I arrived back at my hotel room just before midnight and I confess the bed looked really comfortable. I almost crawled into it but I knew I had committed to posting for you each night of General Assembly and I did not want your morning reading to be missing (I sure hope you are reading, mom). I offer that qualification because I will not be proofreading this post as diligently as I have the previous posts. Thank you for your compassionate grammar and typo indulgence.
We spent the entire day, with a break for lunch and dinner, in the plenary session. I walked into the hall around 8 a.m. and did not head back to the hotel until after 11:30 p.m. This time frame of work is not much different than the others days, the difference is that instead of moving around rooms or working from my hotel room we sat together in the hall together and listened, talked, prayed, disagreed, prayed some more, danced, and laughed on occasion.
One of the reasons I love our denomination is our diversity in theological understanding. I love that I can preside with or be served at the Table by a person who has come to understand Christ in a way I do not. I love that we are unified by our belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior; question one of our baptismal and ordination vows. I love that there is room/space/intentionality for us to be ourselves while working toward being who God is creating us to be.
I love that this is a denomination full of people from all walks of life who find joy, daily find joy in our call as followers of Christ. I love that I can sit with complete strangers and in less than five minutes find joy together and nurture each other’s faith simply by acknowledging we serve the same Lord.
Tonight we heard from a pastor in Detroit, Michigan about the struggles of urban congregations. I have no experience as a pastor in an urban setting. I do not know the struggles faced by pastors and congregations in that context. I do not know what it means to serve a community so vastly different than mine. But I did recognize in that pastor’s passionate plea to be heard and seen and supported, my own desire for our rural congregations to be heard, seen, and supported.
I serve in an area where traveling to the grocery is a half day event, and sometimes a full day event. I know what it is like to drive hours for a hospital visit. I have learned on-line shopping makes being isolated a bit easier. I do not know what it means to be so close to abundant wealth, to be able to see it a few streets over, or on the way to work, or at work, and yet be part of a congregation full of people who live far below the poverty level.
Tonight my brother in Christ, my colleague, a person who took the same ordination exams and vows I did, stood before the body and talked about his love for his community and his sense of call to them. He spoke words that are my language and I heard him.
This was powerful for me because we serve very different communities in very different contexts, and yet we speak the same language. We love with the same love of Christ. Tonight I heard an urban church pastor speak and had he not told me he was an urban church pastor, I would have thought he was serving in the town next to mine. This is our unity in Christ displayed for all to see. We serve the same Lord, we are called to the same ministry of reconciliation and love, and until we share our stories and learn to hear each other we will continue to be ineffective at demonstrating to the world what it means to be changed by God.
Tonight I was convicted and inspired.
I love this life I have been called to live.