Thursday, July 18, 2013

Home from General Assembly

And tired. Very, very tired. I am trying to read and reflect on the story of Mary and Martha today and I realize I need to really just rest for a while and allow myself to find some body and soul restoration after a very busy and wonder-FULL assembly.

So I thought I would just reflect a bit about all that has happened over the past 6 days.

The assembly began on Saturday evening and with Allen Harris I did a "pre-event" for GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Affirming Disciples.) Because we were going to have the big vote on the resolution, I really felt that we need some "spiritual preparation" for that event. We began with very simple but powerful worship and Allen taught us a different way of communicating as a group in which the power is shared. After that I spoke about listening and invited people to participate in a "listening stick exercise." We then discussed our experiences using Allen's process. The whole thing was more meaningful than I ever dreamed it could be. This was followed by lunch and a time of creative reflecting using mandalas, writing, a finger labyrinth, and other artistic expressions. Followed by the opportunity to share their stories. And then worship and communion led by Allen. All of it went so well and I was truly awed by God through the day. happy.

Our worship Saturday night was the beginning of powerful worship services. The musicians provided a variety of expressions - blues, gospel, folk, contemporary and joining thousands of people in singing was wonderful. The preacher - especially Saturday night - was outstanding. Every night was truly a gift to me. There is something about all of us being together that was thrilling.

When I go to events like this you will find me with my I Pad taking notes. Here are some of the insights from the week.

At a Sunday School Class on becoming "Radically Inclusive"

"Diversity may be the hardest thing to live with and the most dangerous thing to be without " William Sloan Coffine
"No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive" Gandhi

To be radically inclusive means that we are embracing you rather than just putting up with you
It is beyond tolerance to welcoming - not only the disenfranchised and powerless but all the powerful and the enfranchised.

From the NBA luncheon
"People are looking for a church to change their life"
"God has placed us in each others' care"

From a talk on "Sacred Conversations"
Our deepest need is that we cannot treat others as somebody if you don't recognize yourself as somebody.
to be "Somebody" is to claim the glory and the responsibility of being a child of God

From a talk by Walter Brueggemann

Prophets tells us that 1. we are falling apart because we are out of the will of God 2. there is a better way 3. Imagine what it will look like when we are in the kingdom (kin-dom) of God

There is a statement that people make: would you rather be right or in relationship? It causes us to keep silent for the sake of relationship - but not sure the relationship is better for it.

Biggest theological mistake we make when we read the Bible - we forget who it was written for. We read it from the center instead of from the margins. The Bible was written for a community on the margins moving from place to place.
Summary of all Jewish holidays - they tried to kill us, we survived, they failed, let's eat! AND I will not forget when they try to wipe others out.

How are we supposed to pray - as an act of hope. Persistently, desperately and in hope

I have much more on Brueggemann - probably will use it in a sermon this year!

From my learning about the "World Café Model"

Conversations that do not seek to come to conclusion but only (???) to broaden our understanding. 3 - 4 people sit knee to knee with a question and a poster board to "doodle/ write on/" We talk for 15 minutes and then switch people. I am very intrigued with this form of conversation and will be using it at some point at church.

From a talk by Dick Hamm at the Glad Banquet

"Can we be a church that puts relationship ahead of dogma and doctrine?
"Churches are like cats - you think they are fighting, but they are multiplying."
"Relationship trumps dogma in the quest for unity."

Perfect love casts out fear. (HE DIDN'T SAY THIS FIRST - BUT HE REMINDED US :)

Anyway, the point is, that a General Assembly has wonderful worship and challenging classes and then the business discussions and voting! As I write this I know this is why I am tired. Thinking, praying, being open to new ways of doing worship and church.

Tomorrow I am going to write about the vote on the resolution. Today I just want to be grateful for a God who loves me as I am. When I "Prayerwalked" this morning the verse I was given was from Psalm 17: 7,8
"Show me the wonder of your great love....Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."

And yet, and yet....God keep pushing, stretching, growing me to learn more and to become more. it is not always easy - but it is always worth it.

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