Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. May your eyes be open day and night toward this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling place; hear and forgive. 2 Chronicles 6:19-21
Remember in your prayers the house that is God’s church, and this dwelling that is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Devotion and Prayer:
It was my privilege to serve as a teaching elder commissioner to the 214th Meeting of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, held ten summers ago in Columbus, Ohio. This was a delightful and a demanding tour of duty that I was honored to have come my way in service to the Church. For the most part, I felt through the eight days of the Assembly that the much reading and much praying of teaching elder and ruling elder commissioners prior to the Assembly, that quite honestly continued in earnest throughout the Assembly, made it possible for us to come together from all corners of the country to discern the mind of Christ in many of the matters that came before the Assembly. I celebrated those super-majority votes that clearly seemed to indicate the Spirit had spoken!
However, there were several times during contentious debate and close votes that I was far less confident that we had discerned the will of God in a matter. I was completely dumbfounded a few times, wondering to myself, “How in the name of heaven could we have ever arrived at that decision?” But what I came to discover during the latter days of the week, was that there were other faithful Christians serving as G.A. Commissioners, seated in front of me and behind me, who were stupefied, decrying actions by the Assembly that I was celebrating.
All that to say, the Presbyterian Church USA is a vast community of Christians, spanning the experiences of urban, suburban, small town, and rural America; literally a denomination that stretches from “sea to shining sea.” When one takes into consideration our regional distinctions, generational differences, racial-ethnic and theological diversity, it’s a wonder we can agree on as many matters as we do at a national level! That the vast majority of us do agree on most things is a testimony to Jesus Christ being the Head of the Church, and evidence of the Holy Spirit being present among us as Teacher and Guide.
Therefore, as we prepare ourselves and offer orientation to our respective presbytery Commissioners for the 220th Meeting of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, let us make the following one of our frequent prayers:
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever: Bless, we pray with divine grace and power, the ruling and teaching elders of the PCUSA who will soon assemble as General Assembly Commissioners in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. May it be that the Church, being rooted and grounded in love, will fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior. When contentious debate and close votes call into question how well your will has been discerned, remind us all that our salvation and our unity is in Christ alone, not in ourselves or in the decisions that our deliberative bodies make. All this and more we pray in his Name, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Warner Durnell, Executive Presbyter
North Alabama Presbytery