It took years to plan and prepare for this assembly of Disciples in Columbus and now it is over and I find myself this morning reflecting on it all.
Overall I did not feel as engaged as I have in the past General Assemblies. There are two reasons. The first is that this time I did not stay at a hotel and so I drove back and forth. I attended far fewer events because of that. And the second reason is that I am now retired and not immediately planning to implement what I am learning. And that made a big difference.
1. Business - fascinating, frustrating, slow and necessary. The business meetings made me think about issues that I might not consider and learn about different sides to discussions. They seemed ponderous as sometimes amendments were made to proposals and we had to vote on them before we voted on the proposal. And sometimes people would feel it necessary to make their point - which someone else had already made. It reminded me of board meetings at a church. As we continue to have conversations about "transforming" the church, there are always people who want to have fewer meetings. And I get it - but I also know that unless we all have opportunities for discussion openly there will be suspicion and division.
2. Worship was both inspiring and frustrating. The music was sometimes great and sometimes loud and sometimes perfect and sometimes too much. Always I am aware of the variety of people who are attending and the reality that no music will fit for everyone. Last night we were rocking out the jazzy communion song at the end about the table. I like it - but I also know that so many don't. And always that leads me into marveling that we are able to do worship at all.
Tuesday night during communion we were to share our dream for the church. My dream continues to be the same one as I had in serving Karl Road Christian Church - a church that is young and old, black and white, gay and straight. A church that looks like heaven. A church that is alive and full of joy. But always we rub up against the differences that we have in our personal preferences about space and music and preaching styles.
3. Good preaching raises me up to look beyond self to see the blessedness of faith. And I heard some good preaching this week. And last night I found myself in tears as I remembered the gift of Jesus and the body of Christ that is the church.
So, for me it was a week of some grief and some relief in my current status as minister without a church to serve. I saw the hard work of the members of Karl Road Christian Church and other local churches providing servant leadership so other people could grow and be inspired at this assembly. And always I am awed by the goodness of these folks.
But most of all, when it is all said and done I am grateful for the call of Jesus that brought me into this denomination 35 years ago. We are small but we are faithful and God's spirit will guide us into new beginnings. I trust that.