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General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

John Calvin would be lost here.
John Knox would be hard put to find
a place to rest his shaggy head, and even
Eugene Carson Blake might be a bit bewildered
by the way things have developed in this mean time.
All these badges, pins and placards, signs and symbols
signifying little more than who you are aligned with,
who against. The shuttling, hustling functionaries, bearing
papers, ipads, cell phones, all secure in secret knowing
they have been elected to do vital work on something …
not sure what. Flocks of lost and wandering observers
looking for food and souvenirs, greeting old pals,
wondering what, if anything, comes next.
And the commissioners themselves,
eyes glazed from lack of sleep and scanning screens and pages,
tongues weary from discussion and dispute into
those wee small hours, lips thirsty for the cool, sweet taste
of laughter that is shared with song and joy, fingers fumbling
for the touch and clasp of fellow seekers, fellow hopers
yes, believers, here of all places! Yet among and shining through
from time to precious time, an elusive presence calling
one and all back to the table and the empty tomb,
the feeding and the healing, those words of judgment
and of grace, the sending forth, the coming home.


BarrieShepherd-1312J. BARRIE SHEPHERD is pastor emeritus ofFirst Church, New York City.