Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

general assembly 3

Well, my husband has decided to teach summer school. He is teaching because he is a hard worker.  He is teaching because his district needs him.   He is teaching summer school this year because teaching 5th graders is something that he has not done before.   He is interested by a challenge.  Teaching summer school and attending summer school is not an easy thing.  It means finding energy to go against the school’s out for the summer energy that fills school districts, local school building and neighborhoods.  Those students who attend summer school do so because they or their families have an urgency.  The urgency is to improve skills and comprehension in state tested subjected like math, reading, history and science.  Attendance at summer school promises that one will be up-to-speed with one’s peers when the Fall arrives.

As it turns out, Presbyterians have their own summer school.  We do it every other year and it comes together as our General Assembly.  Like the summer school of the school districts throughout our nation, General Assembly requires some unusual energy. But teaching elders and ruling elders, observers and mid council folks, find the energy because there is also a promise.  Attendance at the Presbyterian summer school of General Assembly promises to bring us up to speed in our world and faith.  Summer school always happens when its hot.  General Assemblies are no different.

Presbyterian summer school is diligent in its efforts to develop reading skills.  Throughout the assembly we will read hundreds of documents …. words on a  page.  As we do that, we will be reading circumstances that are of concern and joy in our world.  Presbyterians are known for their political opinion.    We Presbyterians believe in asking the General Assembly commissioners to study. We  believe that a faithful reading of real life circumstances from margin to mainstream  is faithful to Christ.  Christ, who moved at the margins and within the mainstream in order to unite what would otherwise be divided.  As we practice our reading, we Presbyterians gather as a crowd into our Teacher’s  classroom.

Presbyterian summer school is also rigorous in addition and subtraction.  We will managing budgets and questions that surround them.  But the most important accounting will be the counter-intuitive accounting.  We will add up the cost of following Christ. Adding the cost will exercise us all day,  for the entire seven days of our assembly.

In some ways, it is the reading and the math that bring us to the science of being Presbyterian.  At our best we are a laboratory, experimenting with the ionic bonding of faith.  You remember ionic bonds.  Those bonds that are established between two atoms caused by the electrostatic force between oppositely-charged ions.  We teaching elders and ruling elders will come charged for our heated work.  Some say that the 221st Assembly promises to further split and divide our denomination.   But we are more discerning than that.  Even in our oppositely charged passions, we know better.   We remember the charge modeled by Christ to go out into the world and abide together in our differences.

I trust that we will try to find that Christ-like ionic bond that has long been the mystery of the church.  Yes, you are ahead of me…it is, indeed, the ionic bond that produces salt.  Matthew 5:13

9 days!




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wiresWe are just 30 days away from the 221st General Assembly.  Privileged to be a commissioner and to stand with Kelly Allen as her vice moderator candidate, I am full of anticipation for the assembly’s work.   We Presbyterians pride ourselves on being a connectional church.   To be connectional means that our congregants do not have to travel far to find a family of faith and a familiarity in worship.  To be connectional means that we are each caring for our corner of God’s world with intentional mission and ministry.  To be connectional means that we are giving particular expression to a strong reformed tradition.

But sometimes it is easier to be connectional than at other times.   General Assembly is the place that we come every two years to regroup in our connectionalism.  You can imagine the build up.  As the particular year of an assembly approaches, our connectionalism takes on a specific intensity.   I have heard it said, that as commissioners and guests arrive to the General Assembly, it is possible to feel the conductive power that is a natural part of being connectional.  We bring our passions, opinions and anxieties alongside our joy and anticipations.   As we do, intensity runneth over the brim of our Presbyterian cup.

In the midst of this intensity, the General Assembly embraces its highest calling.  “…the assembly seeks to protect our church from errors in faith and practice, is responsible for assuring that the expression of our theology remains true to the biblical standards in our historic confessions. The General Assembly presents a witness for truth and justice in our community and in the world community. It sets priorities for the church and establishes relationships with other churches or ecumenical bodies”. 

There are gifts to being a connectional church as mentioned above.  But being a connectional church is not for the faint-hearted.  To be connectional means that we are always attending to how we conduct our shared life.   It means that we are accountable to one another and must, like apprentices to the master,   learn how to safely splice, connect and insulate all that conducts our shared life.

Prayers for the assembly are intensifying.

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my promised land 2


This month, I enjoyed reading the writing of Ari Shavit.  He generously doubles back over images and assertions about the development of present day Israel.  The result is one of memorable education on the subject.  One prevalent image used by Shavit is of orange groves that contributed to the early economy for the European Jews who engaged the Zionist program.  Like an orange is peeled and segmented, Shavit’s content is memorably organized roughly by decades.

His content is rich with historical fact and historical personalities.  In his content, one speculates about the life cycle of nations in general.  Though he sets Israel apart from any other nation of the world, the reader cannot help but think about their own nation.  Within their nation, the reader cannot help but think about those building projects which are specific to the reader.  Within our vocations and hobbies, Shavit invites us further to wonder about our own person, personality, and passionate daring that may help us do a psychological emigration.    If we cannot or will not emigrate in the direction of another, perhaps Shavit builds up in us the desire to empathize with the complexity of another’s landscape.

I commend the book to you.

my promised land

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