Introduction: Steve Shussett
Welcome one another therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Sometimes we do something because it is the “right” thing to do, or to be seen by others in a certain light. Paul reminds us that our ultimate reason in all things, including welcoming others, is for the glory of God. Practice an anticipatory examination of conscience, checking yourself honestly before you speak or act, asking “Will this give God the glory?”
Since 1789, the PCUSA, through each Presbytery’s elected commissioners, has been coming together for this family reunion, mission conference; worship-fest and national stakeholders meeting called the General Assembly. How should we pray for the 220th General Assembly? What might we pray will be the outcome of our time together?
God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer who we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray that the unity that is inherent in the mystery of your very being may find its way into the work and worship of this Assembly. Our theology says the General Assembly first and foremost is an expression of the unity of the church (G-3.0501), so, like the persistent widow in scripture (Luke 18), we ask that, in worship and in conversation, in committees and in assembly, and even in our less than unanimous decisions, the 220th Assembly would present to the whole church the oneness we long for as a church, even as You O God are one.
Creator God, create in this Assembly the boldness to discern, and the wisdom to name what it is you, O God, are doing in the world.
Redeeming and Loving God, who we know as Jesus the Christ, in every action remind this assembly, even as you remind us as a church, that this is your Body, knit together not for our sake but for the sake of the world that you love.
Empowering, Sustaining and Sending God, who is the breath and wind, the fire and power in, under, and over all we would do, help this Assembly find the courage and words to give leadership to the whole church as we seek to realign ourselves with you. We pray that the decisions this assembly makes, the task forces this Assembly creates, the GA agencies and standing committees that do the on-going work of the Assembly, and the staffs of congregations, Presbyteries, Synods and General Assembly who proclaim and give witness to the message of Good News will be better able to do so because of what this assembly has done and how they have done it.
O God our help in ages past, you, more than we, know that assemblies come and assemblies go, as they have since that first Church Assembly in Acts 15, but we pray that in these 8 days in Pittsbueg this assembly will give witness to your abiding love, set in motion actions the whole PCUSA needs to address, and tell stories that the whole church needs to know and celebrate. As you O God gathered that first Assembly in Jerusalem and sent them into the world to give witness to your redeeming love, gather and send this assembly out in a way that enables us to better know and carry out your mission in the world.
O God our hope for years to come, give this assembly a pace that enables commissioners to catch their breath, and help them know, even as scripture reminds us, we are running a race, a race run not alone but a race run with the communion of saints who have gone before and who will come after us. Enable this assembly to know that, in spite of docket deadlines, this race that extends down through the ages is more a relay race than a 100-yard dash. Empower this assembly with the wisdom to know — as overtures are being considered, papers are being shuffled and votes are cast — that the job of each commissioner and this assembly is not just to cross the finish line and get all work done by noon on July 7th, but to hand off the baton well.
Spirit of the Living God descend on us we pray, lest we forget why you have called and sent the church into the world. When the 220th General Assembly gathers, may each commissioner remember it is not about just their particular views. Rather, it is about you and the world that you created, loved, redeemed, and desire to make whole. We ask all this in the name of and for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen
Graham Hart – General Presbyter – Peace River Presbytery [Florida] – Teaching Elder Commissioner to the 219th GA