Some Assembly Required

I sit here in Blind River, Ont., a Timmy’s stop on the drive from Sault Ste. Marie to Pembroke, I find myself reflecting over the past few weeks. As some of you know, I am roadtripping around Ontario these days. As I visit congregations and ministers, I share encouragement from those who care, pray and give for the journey. This year, in the middle of the roadtrip, I got an all expense paid trip to General Assembly. I am telling you this so you can appreciate why General Assembly was a bit of a blur this year.

Here then are some of the things that made an impression on me in spite of my road weariness. They are not in any particular order other than this is how they came to mind.

General Assembly is about community. Connecting with old friends and new is so much more than a cliché. I experienced much joy and shared such excitement with so many people in a short weekend of time. Ironically it had nothing to do with how much we agreed or disagreed on the issues currently facing us as a denomination.

The Moderator matters. Douglas Rollwage set a tone in his manner, his deportment and especially his careful attention to prayer. One of the fruits of all this was the Young Adult Representatives’ presentation at the end of assembly. It was completely focused on scripture and prayer. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the humorous presentations that normally take place. It is just how significant and moving this cohort’s deep and personal prayers were.

Commissioners have a corporate personality and will. I have been to eight GAs in the past 14 years. Often there has been discussion about how ‘different’ or ‘unique’ a particular year is. This was no exception. In the questions on human sexuality before the court and the country, irrespective of their position, the court was set on keeping the process that has been put in place. They resisted both multiple efforts to accelerate and to slow down the eventual decision point, which seems destined to happen next assembly.

Introverts (I’m not one) and ADD/ADHD folks (I am one) pay a heavy price in experiencing General Assembly. There were many of us that returned to our homes planning on at least 24 hours of peace, quiet and rest.

Last, and certainly not least, in prayer times that I had the privilege to host, the theme of God’s sovereignty surfaced many times. We can trust Him. He is faithful. Christ loves his Church more than we can even imagine. And that is why, I believe, the corporate anxiety was lower than last year.

Published in The Presbyterian Record on July 1, 2016.

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