There was a two week break from the Bible Study on Space for God, since I was away for a Presbytery meeting and a Synod meeting, back to back.
What struck me at these meetings as I contemplated the necessary response of gratitude, is that even in the midst of meetings where the difficulties of people, problems and situations can be magnified there is always something for which to be thankful.
At the Presbytery meeting there was disagreement on the future of a congregation. There were those who believed it did not have a future, and those who held the opinion that the congregation was in a unique situation and that we needed to work for them in the present and set them up to have a future.
In the end, those on both sides found a way to make things work, we found a brilliant way of helping this congregation in the present, utilizing resources from a neighbouring congregation to help the lay leaders and preachers who are tired and struggling, as well as evaluating the viability of the congregation for the future. We all left content, that we were doing everything we could for the congregation now, and hopefully for the future.
It was a moment for which to be grateful.
The Presbytery meeting met Wednesday evening, all day Thursday and Friday until noon. The Synod meeting began Friday evening and ran until Sunday at noon. So with a quick change of gears, we started again. I admit that I am not a fan of big organizational meetings as the difficulties of people and situations can all too quickly become the focus and drag on the business.
This Synod meeting was a revelation as the business was quickly and effectively completed on Friday night (with only a few outstanding matters that had to wait for Saturday evening) and the rest of the time was spent in fellowship, worship and in workshop. The preachers were challenging and provocative, the thoughts, the insights and the ideas simply flowed.
The workshops were awesome. Dealing with conflict in a Pauline manner, and how all that translates into peace-making. Such timely things for the church to consider in a time when issues are polarizing nations and churches.
How do we maintain unity in the faced of diversity? It was stressed that we recognize the unity of people in Christ, and agree that in any group there will be a diversity of ideas.
How do we make peace? By a long facilitated process of listening to one another, getting to know each other’s story and trying to understand the reasons behind what they have done, each admit our own contribution to the problem and forgive and find a way forward. Maybe in reality not as easy as it sounds, but surely worth striving for.
There was so much to be grateful for, and I am very glad that I was able to be at these meetings, not something you will hear me say often, I assure you. I have hope, hope that the church will grow in faith and in love despite differently held viewpoints and in that growth signal to the world that we are indeed making a difference for those who need God, whether they seek him or not.
So in response to seeing reasons to be grateful to God, I have seen it in action and am deeply grateful.
The rest of the homework from the Bible Study was to write a Psalm, so today instead of a prayer I offer this Psalm.
Weariness. Circular arguments. Tension. Disagreement.
When O God, will your church learn to follow your way??
Long days lead to a loss of patience:
When O God, will I learn to follow your way?
Situations that demand our answers divide our thinking.
Situations that look hopeful may not come to fruition
How can we decide without all the information?
Yet O God, when we place our trust in you, your Spirit moves
Your Spirit fills our hearts and directs our thoughts
Your Spirit speaks through those who dare to utter a radical way
The prophets among us speak
The hearts of all of us hear your truth
Your wisdom prevails
You O God, have again taken chaos and brought order
You have taken separation and brought unity
You have prevailed.
May your goodness and mercy always prevail in all that we do.
May your peace, your love, your grace fill us all.