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Sunday, July 06, 2008

a fragile flower...

I'm getting lots of traffic from Bruce's "Moderator Monday's" post. The story of that prayer is, in my mind, part of a longer story that I plan to preach on this Sunday and then post Monday. So, wait for it.... :)

But, for those who have not read it, I include the prayer below. I was honored when, on Thursday morning, an aide appeared at my C-05 seat with a note authorizing him to seek me out and tell me that the moderator had asked me to give the Friday pm closing prayer. I planned to play guitar and sing a hymn (they already had it loaded for the projection), but as Friday unfolded, God put this prayer on my heart. As much as we (and I) may disagree with others in the church, they are not the enemy. For the most part, folks are seeking what they believe to be God's deep desire for the church. Now I realize that we can't all be right; but we can seek both truth and justice (somehow God holds those two together, right?) as we wrangle over church polity. For all that Bruce and I do have very different theology, we seem together on this point, and for that I am hopeful. It was a significant sign of trust for Bruce to entrust the "last word" of the day to a known evangelical, and a sign, I believe, of his desire to trust "the other side."

There are opposing sides in the polity debates, but there is just one family of God... that's a hard reality to grasp. And it's easy to give that lip service and then denounce those with whom we disagree as not being in the family of God, as not being Christian, but that is too easy an out. Surely our own families teach us better than that - we can be bound to family and disagree significantly, even to the core of our being! Those disagreements can last years and years. Will we say, "You are no daughter of mine... you are no brother of mine" or will we continue to strive, perhaps broken-heartedly, to love in the face of substantial disagreement? How we understand these dynamics and act on them will shape much of our life together moving forward.

Lest one think I am swimming in the "mushy middle" or giving away the farm, know that these thoughts and the prayer below do not come easily. I am strongly convicted about biblical teaching on human sexuality; I am also strongly convicted about my own calling to be faithful in the context of the PCUSA, and I have been laid hold of by God's grace, despite my own significant weaknesses, sins, and errors. That is why it's amazing...

General Assembly Plenary: Closing Prayer, Friday pm

Would you please stand and hold the hand of those on either side of you, stretching across the aisles as well?

Let us pray…

Heavenly Father,

We are divided on much. Chances are that the person beside us voted differently on significant issues, passionately held. It is so easy to see one another as “the enemy” and yet you declare those who hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to be family.

You declare it – in Christ, we are one family! Yet, we struggle so to experience it! Some of us believe truth is at stake; some of us believe justice is at stake; some of us distrust each other, and we struggle with other issues that would drive us apart. Some leave rejoicing; some leave in sorrow; some are not sure what they feel.

What hope do we have apart from your grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? What hope? Grace seems a fragile flower in a room full of elephants.

Give us a vision for your grace – unconditional, true, winsome, and strong. Help us see the person on our left and on our right, not as the enemy, but like us, a broken son or daughter for whom Christ has died. Help us cling to your Word and live in your Spirit.

We ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen!

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