August 11, 2008
We Are Family
A monthly column for the church by the moderator
by the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow
Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
SAN FRANCISCO — In just a few weeks since the end of the 218th General Assembly, it is safe to say that serving as Moderator has already been an incredibly meaningful experience. What a privilege to be in a place to listen to the passionate voices of this community, our church family. Through “Town Halls” online communities and personal interactions, the complex nature of our church has been made very real to me.
As I have listened to the voices that have shared, whispered, and shouted in my direction, it is clear that a great many realties exist in our church. A number of individuals and communities are filled with pain, frustration, anger, sadness, resignation, and righteous indignation over GA actions.
In the midst of all the many folks who are faithfully discerning their place in this denomination, we must remember that we are family, joined first by common belief in the salvific nature of Jesus Christ, and then by affiliations — affinity and, yes, by denomination.
For while there is great turmoil, make no mistake that there is also great hope and new life in our church — hope for who the PC(USA) might become, hope for followers of Christ to act as such, and hope that we as God’s creation can come together to fully manifest God’s hopes and intentions for the world and humanity.
Recently, I asked some folks about their greatest hopes for the church. Here is some of what they said:
“I can’t fit my hopes for the church in a sentence. All I know is I’m drawn to words like just, hospitable, truth, dialogue, faith, Spirit, collaboration and home. I also am passionate about youth finding their way into the fabric of church at the local level and on up” (Sarah Lamb, Des Moines, IA).
“My hope for the church is that we would pray together more. Not praying for anything, but praying to be in relationship with God. I think everyone in the church, and certainly every congregation and group, and the church as a whole, could use some time together, being community with God” (Hannah Nutt, New Concord, OH).
Like any family, there will be ebbs and flows in how we interact. Sometimes, it will be rough and we will wish we were no longer related; other times, we will defend one another like only family members can. When we are at our most faithful, we will hope more than we could ever imagine that the other will grow fully into who God hopes that person to become.
I firmly believe that God hopes for us to be, above all, faithful. This is also my hope for each and every one of us. I hope it is yours as well.
Please join the many conversations taking place at Bruce’s Moderator blog.