As I write this, in the early morning hours of the second day of committee work at the General Assembly, I am struck by two things: 1) I didn’t realize just how much I needed the extra large latte I am drinking; 2) Being part of a community is hard work.
The large latte is helping me shake off the weariness of marathon days and short nights.
There’s work to be done every day apart from what I’m doing here at GA as a commissioner. Just because I am 3,000 miles away from my congregation doesn’t mean I stop being their pastor. Daily devotions and weekly newsletter articles don’t write themselves, more’s the pity.
I’m also reflecting on the challenges of community: There’s a part of me that feels guilty how hard it is at times to stay connected to other people. Saying the words, however, is kind of freeing.
The idealistic view is that we should be reveling in the ease with which we remain in community. This massive gathering of Christians should be one big love-fest, right? Seriously, I think over the course of the last three days I’ve sung “We Are One In The Spirit” more times than I have in the last 10 years combined.
But when the days are long, and the amendments just keep on coming throughout the committee meetings—your nerves and your forbearance for other folk can wear pretty darn thin. At one point, I realized that we’d just voted to amend a motion that was amended from an earlier motion, which we then perfected before it was voted on in lieu of the original motion.
I had an epiphany at one point late in the evening, however, that gave me some much needed strength and hope.
Monday night, the committee I am serving (Social Justice Issues) seemed to be lost in the weeds as we debated the language of an overture. I was getting frustrated. The hour was late. Everyone was tired. Each time someone rose to make an amendment or a comment, I could hear murmurs in the room.
But we kept working. We didn’t let go of one another. And if we had not been forced to leave because they were locking the Oregon Convention Center doors, I truly believe we would have stayed and kept going until we had knocked out an even bigger chunk of our work.
I’ve often wondered if the writer of Hebrews was talking about church business meetings when (s)he wrote this: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
I am about to head into another day of assembly work. The sugar and caffeine are beginning to kick in, but I believe what is truly giving me energy, joy and hope is that I know I am not alone. Community is hard… but it’s worth it.
Leon Bloder is a preacher, a poet, a would-be writer, a husband, a father, a son, a dreamer, a sinner, a pastor, a fellow-traveler and a failed artist. He is talentless, but well-connected. He stumbles after Jesus, but hopes beyond hope that he is stumbling in the right direction. Leon has been married to Merideth for 22 years, is the father of three awesome boys, and serves in ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis in Eustis, Florida.