Yesterday was a great day. One of those days when your heart is so full and your spirit so uplifted that you wonder if you might just break apart at the seams. I fell into my bed exhausted last night without enough energy to eek out a blog post, so I am doing what I have rarely done, and blogging in the morning rather than the evening. I will try to round up all that happened yesterday (and I already know I will fail to convey it properly!).
This year General Assembly took time to highlight some “good news” stories within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Here is what I heard:
-congregations CAN change and grow and experience new life…often (sadly) this happens once the stench of death is in the nostrils of the congregants, once they are staring at their tombstones. With so many of our congregations in dire straights…maybe (just maybe!) we are on the door of a true revival in the PCC
-Ministers need to be healthy – emotionally, spiritually and physically. I know this, but my friend and colleague the Rev. Matthew Ruttan spoke boldly and honestly about his own time of failing health, his struggle and the steps he took to regain his health. He spoke about getting a counselor and a mentor, he told us that the provisions made for clergy to get counseling in our benefits package is not enough. It made my heart sing to see a colleague willing to make himself vulnerable at the front of the court, for the sake of bringing an important message to those who needed to hear it. He reminded us that our congregations cannot be healthy if our clergy are not healthy.
-small churches can make a big difference through strategic partnerships with community organizations. Lynn Donovan’s story of St. Andrew’s Picton’s “circle of friends” – a term used to describe the church’s relationship with artists, musicians, and organizations within Prince Edward County, who help the church make a difference to the community around them – was nothing short of inspiring.
-Kennon Callaghan has important things to say. His name came up in many of the good news stories. I would encourage churches to check him out and see if they might learn from him.
-good news is life-giving. Again, this is obvious…but also vitally important to remember. We are good at beating ourselves up. As a denomination we suffer from low self-esteem. But low self-esteem is not healthy. It is not life-giving. Negative talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We NEED to hear the good news. We NEED to share the ways that God is at work among us. We NEED it like we need water or air or the news of the Resurrection.
There is more that I could share, I’m sure. But in the interest of keeping this to a digestible length, I will share just one more thing. Our worship last night was beautiful. There was such diversity in that service – there was a rockin’ praise band, classical instruments, a mass Korean choir singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic in Korean, there was printed responsive liturgy, there were extemporaneous prayers. The word was passionately preached. There was silence. There were men’s voices and women’s voices. There were lay leaders and ordained leaders. There were younger voices and older voices. And over all of it, was the unifying Spirit of the Almighty God. I wish I could have brought every Presbyterian into the room. It was easily one of the best services I have been at in my life.
I need to express my deep gratitude to God, who indeed made us one in worship last evening.