Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crazy day...

Today was crazy...today was scary...today was real.
I got one of those unexpected and scary phone calls that flips your world upside down and puts life on hold. My mom is in the hospital...maybe a stroke...maybe brain tumors...we will know more in the morning. But what I did notice today was how awesome my friends and family are. So many prayers and thoughts lifted up for my mom and all out of love.

God is good, even in the midst of chaos when the world is turned upside down GOD IS GOD...and for that I am thankful. Even if we were to get "bad news" tomorrow, I know that God is still God and God is still with me and my family through it all. Nothing can take that away from me and nothing will make my trust in God go away. Would I be upset, angry, frustrated...sure...that's my mother and I love her and I hate seeing her scared and in pain. But she is not alone...there are hundreds of people praying for her, there are people calling to check in on her, and there are lots of us loving on her.

I might be a little shaken, but my roots are still strong...nothing in this world is strong enough to uproot me and that is the hope that I cling to.

Praying for mom,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sermon: July 18, 2010

So here's a rough outline of my sermon from Sunday...okay a little more than an outline but here's the message...well what I remember of it.

Texts: Exodus 17:1-7 & John 7:37-39

-General Assembly Young Adult Advisory Delegate-What does that even mean?
-Expectations-Still don't know how this experience will impact my life
-What did I see?
-Opening Worship-Festival like, Baptism, Celebration
-Festival of Booths
-Rooted in Israels desert wanderings
-Our opening worship was rooted in our own wanderings as a denomination.
-Bruce's sermon-It's not about us...it's about God and what God is doing among us.
-Moses striking the rock
-We need to be more like Moses and less like the Israelites
-They quarreled amongst themselves and asked "Is the LORD among us or not?"
-Moses stopped, listened to God, followed God's directions, and was looking for God to be standing in front of the rock so that it could be struck and the people could drink.
-Each Sunday we gather
-We should look for God to be standing in front of a rock that needs to be struck
-We need to drink, so that from our hearts will flow rivers of living water
-Book of Order quote: Church's mission at the RISK of losing its life.
-GA Risk taking: YAAD's Plenergizing, Bow tie gang dancing, Commissioners sharing their struggles with one another, Inter-generational church listening to one another to better understand one another.
-The streams of living water from the 219th GA were "transplanted"
-Planes carried these streams to places all over the world
-They all flow forth from the center, that is Jesus Christ is head of the church. THAT statement needs no amendments, no substitute motions, no perfecting, no questions of clarification.
-The streams of living water that flow from the believers heart WILL impact our neighborhoods, communities, and the world around us.

Somewhere in there was a quote from the Book of Order that included various readings from G.3.0200-G. 3.0401
Which reads as follows:
a. The Church is called to tell the good news of salvation by
the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior
and Lord, proclaiming in Word and Sacrament that
(1) the new age has dawned.
(2) God who creates life, frees those in bondage, forgives
sin, reconciles brokenness, makes all things new, is still at
work in the world.
b. The Church is called to present the claims of Jesus Christ,
leading persons to repentance, acceptance of him as Savior and
Lord, and new life as his disciples.
c. The Church is called to be Christ’s faithful evangelist
(1) going into the world, making disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all he has
(2) demonstrating by the love of its members for one
another and by the quality of its common life the new
reality in Christ; sharing in worship, fellowship, and
nurture, practicing a deepened life of prayer and service
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
(3) participating in God’s activity in the world through its
life for others by
(a) healing and reconciling and binding up wounds,
(b) ministering to the needs of the poor, the sick, the
lonely, and the powerless,
(c) engaging in the struggle to free people from sin,
fear, oppression, hunger, and injustice,
(d) giving itself and its substance to the service of
those who suffer,
(e) sharing with Christ in the establishing of his just,
peaceable, and loving rule in the world.
The Church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk
of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of
life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that
point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ.
The Church is called
a. to a new openness to the presence of God in the Church
and in the world, to more fundamental obedience, and to a more
joyous celebration in worship and work;
b. to a new openness to its own membership, by affirming
itself as a community of diversity, becoming in fact as well as
in faith a community of women and men of all ages, races, and
conditions, and by providing for inclusiveness as a visible sign of
the new humanity;
c. to a new openness to the possibilities and perils of its
institutional forms in order to ensure the faithfulness and usefulness
of these forms to God’s activity in the world;
d. to a new openness to God’s continuing reformation of the
Church ecumenical, that it might be a more effective instrument of
mission in the world.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Worship...July 18, 2010

Well for those interested...this was the worship service for Sunday Sermon to come because I have to remember what I said....

Call to Worship:

Jesus says to us “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let the one who believes in me drink.”

For out of the believers heart shall flow rivers of living water.

As we gather this morning, we do so knowing that the cup of hope is full.

We come to drink.

The streams of life are carrying us forward in the world.

We come to drink.

The rivers of living water are breaking forth from the north, south, east and west.

We come to drink.

The oceans of God’s mercy and love are deep.

We come to drink.

We come to drink together.

We come to be nourished and worship together in community, hearing the good news and going forth as streams of living water in our neighborhoods, in our community, in our nation, and in our world.

Opening Prayer:

God who called the world into being, who created and continues to create, God who called and continues to call, it is with thanksgiving that we stand together this morning gathered in this place and in this time to worship as one body. This morning we come thirsty for the living water that comes in Christ alone. As we worship may our hearts and minds be focused on you and your word. May we remember why it is that we gather, to worship you, to be reminded of your work, to live in your spirit, and to celebrate the works you are doing in the church and in the world around us. May all that we say and do be a reflection of you this morning. In the name of the risen Christ we pray. Amen.

Call to Confession:

In our baptism we make promises to be faithful and active members of the church of Jesus Christ, denouncing evil, and sharing of our gifts, time, and talent. In the baptism of children we promise as a congregation to help raise and guide the child in their journey. Yet, day in and day out we struggle to live out the vowels we have committed to on another, to ourselves, and to God. We make excuses for our actions not only to each other and to ourselves, but we even plead our excuses to God. Let us together, not plead our excuses, but instead let us confess our shortcomings before the one who is gracious enough to forgive us.

Prayer of Confession:

Merciful God, we confess that we do not live lives that are guided by your Spirit. We as recipients of your grace do not offer mercy to others. We have received your word yet fail to witness your truth to our neighbors. We are offered the cup of new life each day, but we fail to come and drink. Our brokenness has been restored and we still contribute to the brokenness of brothers and sisters around the world. We pray that we as forgiven people might live lives that reflect the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, lives through us, and has the power to transform the world around us. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen


Opening Hymn-#2 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Closing #278 Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

Exodus 17:1-7
John 7:37-39

Sermon Title: General Assembly, Israelites, and Living Water

Monday, July 12, 2010

Things from General Assembly 219 You will not find in the media...

With all the stuff the media has posted I figured I would write about some of the exciting things going on in the church that you will not find in the media...

#1) The Presbytery of North Central Iowa overtures the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to direct the General Assembly Mission Council to reestablish an Office of Collegiate Ministries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a vital and integral part of the ministry and mission of the church and direct that office to prepare a strategy for mission in higher education in concert with middle governing bodies, congregations, and, where possible, ecumenical partners, to be presented to the 220th General Assembly (2012).


The General Assembly Mission Council recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010) renew its commitment to help grow Christ’s Church deep and wide by doing the following:

1. Extend a churchwide commitment to participate in God’s activity through Jesus Christ in transforming the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through the 2011–2012 biennium.

2. Encourage synods, presbyteries, sessions, and all agencies, entities, and networks of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to commit to foster the growth of Christ’s Church deep and wide in the following areas:

a. Grow in Evangelism: Share the good news of Jesus Christ. Invite persons to join in the church’s worship and fellowship. Baptize children and adults (Mt. 28:19–20; Lk. 15).

b. Grow in Discipleship: Rediscover Scripture, including daily reading and study. Nurture relationships with Jesus Christ in the context of our Reformed heritage (Lk. 14:33; Jn. 8:31, 13:35, 15:8).

c. Grow in Servanthood: Stand alongside the wider community to promote the well-being and love of neighbor. Embrace stewardship in all of life (Jn. 13:12-17; Mt. 25:34–40).

d. Grow in Diversity: Welcome everyone. Learn from others. Reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of God’s peoples in the world including leadership (Gal. 3:26–29; Rev. 7:9–10).

3. Encourage the General Assembly Mission Council to support the whole church’s commitment to foster the growth of Christ’s Church deep and wide in its ministries and mission.

4. Request each session to commit time on its agenda during 2011–2012 to cast a vision for each of the four “Growing Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” areas.


The General Assembly Mission Council recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010) approve the report on the “Commitment to Peacemaking”:

1. Commends those sessions, presbyteries, synods, and other entities that have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

2. Recognizes that the office of the Stated Clerk sends a certificate of commendation to the stated clerk of the presbytery in which the congregation is located for presentation at a stated meeting of presbytery for those sessions that have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

3. Requests stated clerks of presbyteries who receive the certificates for sessions that have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking” to present them at a stated meeting of presbytery in such a way as to adequately commend the congregation for this achievement.

4. Urges presbyteries to find ways to share and celebrate the experiences of congregations where sessions have adopted and implemented the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

5. Urges presbyteries and synods also to consider adopting the “Commitment to Peacemaking” in forms appropriate to those governing bodies and commends those governing bodies that have done so.

6. Commends the sixty-three presbyteries and six synods that have 50 percent or more of their congregations whose sessions have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

7. Commends the four presbyteries that have 75 percent or more of their congregations whose sessions have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

8. Urges peacemaking committees of the presbyteries to contact the sessions in their presbytery that have not adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking” to express the importance of this commitment and to urge their adoption of it.

9. Recognizing that the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a list of those sessions, presbyteries, synods, and other entities that have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking” in order to serve them in their peacemaking efforts, requests that a report be made to the 220th General Assembly (2012) on the number of sessions that have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

10. Requests the 219th General Assembly (2010) to commend publicly those presbyteries that have actively incorporated peacemaking into their ministry; including acknowledging and supporting those congregations whose sessions have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking.”

11. As requested by the 218th General Assembly (2008), the 219th General Assembly (2010) honors those presbyteries that have reached 50 percent or more of their congregations whose sessions have adopted the “Commitment to Peacemaking” since the 218th General Assembly (2008).

Now there are many more things the church is doing, but these are just a few I thought I would share and shed light on. Exciting things are happening in the church...get excited and get involved!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GA 219-Day 10

I am sitting in the St. Paul/Minneapolis airport waiting for my plane to leave and as I have made my way to my seat I have seen numbers of Presbyterians waiting for their planes to leave and take them home. We were charged this morning to go forth in the living waters of Christ, proclaiming the gospel to the world as we serve our brothers and sisters in love.

As I sit here I see people going near and far, east and west, north and south, knowing that we have all been gathered together around the table this week. We have been nourished, we have been challenged, we have been stretched, and now we leave taking the gifts we have received with us to share with our congregations and presbyteries. It is exciting to see so many passionate people leaving to go back, looking to make changes, looking to share the Gospel, looking to serve those around them, looking to be Christ in the world. It is exciting because I hope and I believe the church is moving forward, I hope and I believe that together as brothers and sisters we can continue to do the work of God in the world around us, that together we will continue to listen and discern what and where God would have us go together.

Going forth, pressing on, sharing, listening, learning, and engaging with one another, we leave Minneapolis and head out...what an amazing thing to witness and take part in!!

I have been humbled by this experience and cannot wait to share the excitement I have with the church...good things are happening...good things are coming...Thanks be to God!


Friday, July 9, 2010

GA 219-Day 9

Tonight the YAAD's were charged by our Vice Moderator Landon Whitsitt, to be the Timothy's that go out from this 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We were charged to be Christ's light in the world, to exemplify the fruits of the spirit, to continue to be gracious with one another, and to continue the work that has begun here. The theme "Out of the believers heart shall flow rivers of living water" in and of itself is a charge to us. As we leave this place the flood gates are lifted and we take all of this knowledge, passion, love, and excitement of the church with us to all parts of the world.
One of the things I am really excited about is the overture on campus ministries that passed today, being at a Presbyterian school with no Presbyterian Campus Ministries (although we have many other campus ministries) is sad. We wonder why college students leave for school and never return to the church? It's because they go to a place where the church is not present. This reinstatement and focus on collegiate ministries is needed and I look forward to seeing it develop and make a difference in the church and the world.

This week I have had the privilege and honor of serving Jesus Christ in a radical way by serving the church and I am forever humbled by this experience. I am thankful for a church that takes seriously the voice of young adults. I am proud to call myself a Presbyterian and I look forward to what the future holds as this denomination moves forward together to continue working on discerning God's will and how to live in Christ in the world around us.

Are things perfect in the church? NO! Do we all get along? NO! Do we respect each other, care for each other, pray for and with each other, and listen to each other? YES! And that is what is important. I look forward to watching this church continue to stand on the common ground of Christ, putting aside our differences, and focusing on the one thing that we all have in common...Jesus Christ who is head of the church, Lord of our lives, and the One who works for the good of those who love God.

This experience has been amazing. I have served alongside some awesome YAAD's and I look forward to the leadership that is rising in this church. As our Vice Moderator said today "I don't ever want to hear the words frozen chosen again...that was fantastic." We as young adults refuse to be the same old "frozen chosen" and I think we proved that with our energizers, with our energy, with our enthusiasm, and with our boldness. We are not the church of the future, we are not the church of tomorrow, but together with all of our brothers and sisters around the world we are the church of today. And for that I am thankful.

I pray for our Church, for our leaders, for all of those who gave time and energy to be here this week. It has been a long journey, a long road, but one not traveled alone.

Thanks be to God for being the One in control of all that is and is to come.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

GA 219-Day 8

Today was an emotional roller coaster for me. It started out with a phone call from my father letting me know that $300 was spent out of my bank account at a couple of drugstores. This was a surprise to me since I haven't used my debit card or checkbook since I left Indiana 8 days ago. Somehow, somewhere along the way someone has stolen my debit card number and taken the liberty upon themselves to spend my money. Thankfully my bank is working it all out and I will get my money back, but none the less it is frustrating and scary... That was the beginning of my day and as it continued I began to realize something in our denomination. While we as Presbyterians love to point out that we can agree to disagree, I would hope that we can agree on this...Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. I realized today that so many times we get caught up in the agenda's we bring to the table that we forget whose church it really is. We forget that the Holy Spirit is present among us, moving in us, working through us, and dwelling among us. We forget that our amendments are not ours, that our motions are not ours, that our new ideas are not ours, but that they belong to God. We forget that the things we say and do we should remember that ALL THINGS...I'll say it again ALL things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). I have been amazed at the ability of Presbyterians to fight with their words in ways that are sneaky and sometimes down right mean. I have been saddened by the lack of trust we have had in the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us. But I have been impressed with our ability to come together and worship God in all things no matter what the outcome. I would hope that as we press on in the future we will be more aware of how God can work in situations even when we do not agree with the situation we are in. But that we trust God's kairos (God's timing), knowing that our will is not the will to be done...but God's will, will be done. I sat in the worship service with my fellow YAAD's and as we sang hymns I could not help but cry (there ya go Chris I cried...but not at the mic) for I have been overwhelmed by the movement of the Holy Spirit this week, this day, and I am thankful and humbled by my experience here at the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Church is moving in the 21st century and there are still things to be decided tomorrow and I would hope and pray that as we move in to the final day and a half of plenary sessions that we remember just who is the head of the church, Jesus Christ, the one who came, who died, who rose again, and who dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit renewing our hearts and minds while transforming the church and the world as we know it. Thanks be to God for the things that are flowing forth from this place in this time. Now it is time to rest by body and mind.
Peace be with you,

Photo Caption=Even Jesus loves Presbyterians ;D

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GA 219-Day 7

I've been here a week. Wow.
I have met new people, caught up with old friends, and been constantly amazed by the things that have come forth from this assembly. The fellowship has been amazing, the worship has been inspiring and filling, and the opportunity to serve Christ and Christ's church in this way has been humbling.

As the time goes on here and I continue to meet new people and build relationships, I realize how awesome God is. I realize how much I know and how much I have to learn. But more importantly I realize that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, or how I feel this will never be my church because it is Christ's church. The reality is that many folks here and around the world, and I'm sure I've been guilty of this too, we all get caught up in the politics of the church and forget that Jesus alone is head of the church. That no matter what we say, think, or do, the church is not ours in the end. And for this I am thankful.

Today was a big day. Not only did the recommendation of continual work on the new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism pass through the assembly, the approval of the Belhar Confession is being sent to Presbyteries to vote and so is the New Form of Government.
These are big changes for our denomination as a whole (if they pass through Presbyteries and come back to the Assembly in 2012). I was shocked tremendously by the votes and how they turned out, but it was also kind of exciting to sit there and know that Presbyterian Church that I love and serve is so willing to continue to reform and change in a world that is constantly changing.

Something else I have noticed over the last week is that not only has my love of the church increased, but I continue to hunger for God's word. Scripture has always been very close to my heart, but something about being here and hearing the word of God daily makes me long for it even more. There are times I read scripture and feel the tears come to my eyes, there are times where I find myself reciting verses to myself, there are times where I start to pray and the words that come to my mouth are the words that God has provided in scripture. Scripture is beautiful, it is a gift, and it is something that I respect and something that has authority over all I say and do.

In short this experience has been fantastic for me so far. I love being Presbyterian, I love being around people who share this passion, and I love engaging in conversations with people who challenge me, who stretch me, and who continue to help me plant my roots deeper in Christ so that I may overflow with thanksgiving.

We shall see where tomorrow goes...until then...my body needs some rest.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

GA 219-Day 6

Over the last 6 days my mind has been stretched, my heart has been filled, and love for Christ's church has grown.

I was questioned by a friend moments ago on the phone over many theological questions, and for the most part he and I see somewhat eye to eye theologically. But he brought up some questions that raised concern for me and the main issue at hand was the way we use scripture.

I have a deep love for theology, but I have an even deeper love for the word of God. Every time I open my Bible I am filled with emotion, my heart swells, I become excited, and sometimes I even weep. The scriptures we have are beautiful and in speaking with my friend I realized how many times they are taken out of context, twisted, and used in ways that make me feel hurt. When someone says I believe what the Bible says here but not there, and this does not fit with the way I want to live my life or what I want to believe so I just ignore that it scares me. It makes me sad.

We have a precious gift in scripture, sola scriptura, two words that have been echoed many times in the last 6 days. Scripture alone, the authority I turn to (I have 35 pages written on my personal beliefs and many pages are hard reflections on sola scriptura) first in all that I say and all that I do. And this is hard. In a world that is changing so rapidly it is hard to see how scripture lines up and sometimes it does not. The reality is that we as a church are called not to conform to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2) but instead to be renewed by the transforming of our minds. This renewal of our minds comes from staying true to our scriptures and I fear that this is something the church is moving away from. Instead we are moving towards being transformed by the world and that is scary.

The theme of this assembly is "Out of the believers heart shall flow rivers of living waters" (John 7:38). This theme calls for something radical. It calls for things to flow forth from this assembly, to change the world as we know it and to make new paths, wider paths, and fresh paths. However, it is my fear that this paths will not be transforming the world but instead conforming our denomination to the world.
When rivers flow forth they cut a pass in the land, I don't have to look to far from where I live now to see that in the Ohio River. These paths that rivers provide are places where transportation takes place. Rivers are where life is found above and below the water. Rivers rarely run dry and rivers carry momentum down streem into a bigger body of water.

My hope and dream for this church that I love is that our river that flows forth from this General Assembly would be one that does not conform to the world but that creates a new transformation future for the church and all of God's people. One that says we are one in Christ, one that says Christ is more powerful than any overture, any report, any committee, any person, Christ is Lord, Christ is head of the Church (not just our church), and Christ cannot and will not be used in ways that are not in line with Scripture, yet Christ will be used to free the oppressed, restore sight to the blind, and proclaimed to all. It is through Christ that we have been called to this place and this time to respond to the business before us and I pray that we are listening carefully...first to scripture and second to one another...to discern what the will of God is for us as we push to move the church forward, as we look to be a river of living water to the world around us.

It's late, I'm tired, and I don't want to be cranky tomorrow!

I will say I enjoyed our YAAD field trip to the Mall of America where I road roller coasters and watched a ComedySportz show that was AMAZING...and we asked during Mr. Know it All, for Mr. Know It All to explain Parliamentary Procedure to us...It is official that all YAAD's desire to become GA junkies now. :D


Monday, July 5, 2010

GA 219-Day 5

Today was the most challenging day for me so far. It was also a good day. I will speak to one thing that was discussed in our committee today and that was on recommending the Belhar Confession to be sent to Presbyteries for vote to be added to our book of confessions.

My frustration was this, there is a complacency in the church. We as a denomination are really good at pushing things under the rug and putting them off. And that is what many in the committee wanted to do and it is my fear that this is true throughout the denomination. I was also frustrated that I did not get the opportunity to express my opinion yet others continually had opportunity to speak and speak and speak, finally after saying something about the recognition of those who had not spoken during a break it was too late and time to vote. So I was a little upset that discussion was squashed and there were others besides me who had something to say but yet a few were left to dominate the discussion.

So reflecting on that experience I think about 2 statements the confession makes, in the second section it says this,
"We believe
-that Christ's work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another;
-that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God's Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought; one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain;"

The church has expressed many times over the last few days that something needs to change, that we need to move forward and continue to be relevant in the here and now. This confession of Belhar calls for unity and reconciliation not just within our own denomination but unity in Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, the only one in which this unity can come. This confession is bold, there is no doubt about it, it calls for something radical and difficult. But what does it say to the world when we stand together as a church and say that we are willing and committed to stand together in the world around us for unity and reconciliation of all of God's people, all around the world, so that we can all stand hand in hand against the injustices of the world, so that we can be the voice of the voiceless, the hope to the the hopeless, and that we seek the wholeness of all people in a broken and unjust world?

If we can stand together on the boldly in the here and now (not 2, 4, or 6 years from now) but NOW and confess together that we are one body, united by Christ, reconciled to God and one another through Christ, and that Christ alone is head of the Church...we will become the church that stands relative for all time, we will be the church that serves the world around us as Christ would have us do, and we will become a church that makes a difference.

Obviously the Belhar confession has spoken to me, and mostly because of the awesome privelage of working with other young preachers from many denominational backrounds. We are working in unity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to celebrate that Gospel. I do believe that it is a gift and an obligation that is set before us as a Church, to work for the unity and reconciliation that we so desperately need. Not that we agree on every issue, but that we agree on one thing, Jesus Christ is head of the Church, Lord of our lives, and calls us to work towards unity and reconciliation with God and one another.

I continue to keep this in my prayers and look forward, hopefully, to the opportunity to share my thoughts with the entire assembly when it comes before us.

Today was also awesome because I got to catch up with an old friend...old not in his age...well maybe that too...but none the less it was great to see a familiar face of a friend who has meant so much to me in my discernment process. Someone who has encouraged me along the way, pushed me, challenged me, prayed for and with me, and listened to me. God is so good to providing us with people in our lives who care enough to reach out and believe in us when we often do not believe in ourselves. I am thankful for Chris and for him claiming me as one of his own children (I don't know if he's really sure he wants to do that), for showing me the love of Christ in practical ways, for believing in me, for stretching me, and for letting me be myself. He is just one reminder of many people who have been supportive throughout my lifetime, and a reminder of how connected we are as Presbyterians to come to this place and connect again with one another to remember the times we had and look forward to the times to come. I pray that he continues to do the work he is called to do and that he is encouraged as much as he encourages me.

Now it is time that I encourage my body by going to bed because I am absolutely worn out and sore. Sorry no picture today, I'm not patient enough to upload one tonight...hence why I need the sleep :D

Tomorrow looks to be an easier day than today ;D...for that I am thankful...


Sunday, July 4, 2010

GA 219-Day 4

The 4th of July, our nations Independence Day and a day where the freedom of speech was exemplified...to say the least.

We started the day off in worship, a worship with thousands and thousands and thousands of Presbyterian brothers and sisters gathered from around the world. The walls of our individual opinions were all left at the door as we gathered together to worship the God who has called each and every one of us here, in this place and in this time to discern together as a community where God is leading us. We gathered and celebrated the sacrament of baptism as a child was baptized during the service. We gathered from the north, south, east, and west, around Christ's table to share in the sacrament of Communion. We listened as former Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow challenged us with a sermon focusing on the mountains we have before us as a denomination. Now we embark upon a week of mountains, trembling mountains, mountains that need to be addressed here and now.

After lunch we headed off to our first committee meetings. My deepest prayer for these committee meetings, is that we are all looking and listening to discern the voice of God in each person who steps to the mic to speak. INCLUDING those people who we think to ourselves "There is no way that he/she could possibly be speaking the voice of God on this issue." The reality is that it is very easy for us to think that our opinion is the voice of God and that is the end of the story, but the reality in Christ is that God speaks to each of us and through the power of the Holy Spirit we discern that voice and should share it with the body of Christ because it is in listening to one another, the many voices, the many opinions, the many accents, and the many languages, that we can together as one body discern together what God is saying to us as a church and as the arms, legs, and mouths of Jesus Christ in the world today.

I have been asked many times today "So, how is the YAAD (Young Adult Advisory Delegate) experience? And I have thought about it a lot. So far these are my responses.
1) It is overwhelming and tiring. This work is not a walk in the park. Any time that we commit ourselves to discernment it takes patience and commitment. Serving the church in this capacity is exciting and scary at the same time. BUT it is work that we all feel called to do and because of that we challenge our bodies and minds to carryout the task that is before us.

2) It has been AMAZING, especially to see the YAAD's so excited about the church. It is not everyday that I get to see young people excited about the PCUSA and with that being said, I hope that this excitement flows from this Assembly into our everyday lives so that others might see the excitement and share in it with us.

3) I have made a personal decision, in lunch/dinner/free-time to sit or "hang-out" with people who are not YAAD's for many reasons. The main reason is because we as young people have heard for many years that we are the "future" of the church, and yes that opinion is changing, but if I claim to be the church here and now, then I feel that I need to make an effort to get to know and share with my brothers and sisters of all ages. So I have had conversations with many people of all ages, ethnicities, and walks of life. It has been the most rewarding experience for me to get to know them, to ask them questions, to answer the questions they ask of me, and to walk with them in this journey that is before us.

Lastly, the picture for today's post was taken at the Moderator's reception before dinner and fireworks. From left to right you see Gradye Parsons, Vice Moderator Landon Whitsitt, Moderator Cynthia Bolbach, and Myself. Unfortunately the lifesize cutout of John Calvin was not there, but I will post a picture of it sometime soon.

Continue to keep the 219th General Assembly with all of its commissioners and delegates in your prayers. As well, keep the church in your prayers as we make decisions this week that will impact the future for all of us. This is not my journey at General Assembly, but our journey as a community of belivers.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

GA 219-Day 3

So it is now 1:11am on Sunday morning. I am just getting back to my room after the first official day of business here at the General Assembly. Where to begin on the day?

For the first time today I walked into the plenary hall and found my seat as a Young Adult Advisory Delegate and it is a moment I will never forget. Most people who know me know that I am pretty enthusiastic about the church. I love the Presbyterian church, I love the reformed faith, the ability of the body to agree to disagree and yet come together on the common ground of Christ. A little more about that later...

Walking into the plenary hall, I saw chairs sitting out and realized just how big this is. I realized that I along with a little over 200 other people are here so the Church can hear our voice and engage with us in discerning where God is moving in the Church. I realized that together the commissioners and delegates are making decisions that will leave a lasting impact on the church in years to come. And I realized just how awesome our God is, to give us grace and mercy, patience, love, and kindness when we are cranky, when technology is posing problems, and when we just want to go to bed.

Tonight we elected a new moderator. It was exciting, not because the candidate I wanted to win won, but because we saw the body of Christ, divided in a vote come together even after the new moderator was announced and join in welcoming her as our chosen moderator. Unity, it is something we as humans often have a problem with. And after a few votes, a few technical difficulties, a few unhappy moments, the decision was final and we stood on the common ground that in the end Christ is head of the church and we work for the common good of all people around the world.

That is exciting, that is encouraging, that is what makes me proud to be a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It was barely a month ago that I found out I would be coming to the 219th General Assembly, and while I was excited I was also nervous. I have prayed, discerned, prepared, and listened in the last month. I have opened myself up to the Holy Spirit and to the people around me (especially in the last two days) and I have fallen deeper in love with the Church I have loved for years.

Before I left for GA my Grandmother told me that I am a 5th Generation Presbyterian (that she knows of) coming down from my Grandfathers side of the family. Why she decided to tell me, I may never know, but what I do know is that I am thankful for a rich Presbyterian tradition within my family. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow up in a church that encourages education, community, and social justice. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve this church in many ways over the last few years. But more importantly I am thankful for Jesus Christ who calls us, who leads us, and who breaks down barriers so that we can listen to one another and together discern what is God's will for our future.

My prayer is that as we move into the business of our committees we continue to listen for the voice of God from within scripture, from our confessions, from within ourselves, and from those around us. This is my prayer so that together all of us, from all ethnic backgrounds, from all ages, from all areas of the world, from males and females alike, and from all social and economic classes can together be Christ's church in this 21st century. So that we can rise up to the challenges of the world around us, to accept one another as God's beloved children, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as equal heirs to the God's grace that is found in Christ. May we work for unity, for reconciliation, and for the hope a bright future in the Presbyterian Church. Thanks be to God for this General Assembly, for calling us as we are in this time and in this place to diligently and faithfully carry out the duties set before us. The road ahead seems long, but we do not travel it alone. Thanks be to God, Amen.


Friday, July 2, 2010

GA 219-Day 2

Where to begin? This day has been full of activities and excitement. Continuing to meet new people and make connections that are far reaching.
I guess I will just list a few of the things that happened today

-We had worship not once, not twice, but three times today.
-I got to lead the call to confession in the last service.
-We had a bunch of woman from the office of Christian Vocation come and speak with us.
-We had a presentation on Parliamentary Procedures (so exciting :D)
-Dinner was sponsored by the seminaries, got lots of info and free stuff from them (plus I rocked at seminary trivia).
-We met all of the candidates for moderator/vice moderator.
-We also met the outgoing moderator and his vice moderator.

One of the things I heard echoed by many today, is something I have been saying for the last year and it's that the church has to realize that we as the young people are not the future of the church. We are the church now, in this time, doing the work of Christ in the world around us. TOGETHER we ALL are the future of the church and we have to be willing to listen with open minds and hearts with one another in order to move the church in new directions to follow where God is leading.

The scriptural theme for GA219 is from John 7:38 "Out of the believers heart shall flow rivers of living water." We have all come from many places around this nation and around the world, to gather as the body of Christ to discern where God is leading us as the Church, and as we come, we bring many gifts, many talents, many voices, many concerns, many lifestyles, and many struggles. But we all come on the common ground of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2) and we all come discerning, seeking the will of God, and listening to that still small voice in the midst of sometimes loud commotion around us.

This morning in quiet time I was reading some Bonhoeffer and he said this, "Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one's heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. No man can do that by himself. For that he needs Jesus Christ."

There will be times in the week ahead where I may feel empty, and times like now where I feel really full, but no matter what I know that I have to seek God and speak to God. This is where the rivers of living water will flow from, the outcome of our time spent discerning the will of God will flow for years to come. The rivers will cut through many lives leaving lasting impressions and flowing into other rivers and streams, forming new stronger currents that will lead the church in the years to come. It all starts here, it all starts with the voice of God, the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit within us to get the spring started so the rivers can flow, so lives can be changed, and so the Church can move forward in unity.

My prayer in the days to come is for patience, for strength, and for a discerning heart and mind.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

GA 219-Day 1

So the next 10 or so days I will be blogging about my General Assembly experience!

Today's task was getting to Minneapolis.
This was my first time traveling anywhere alone and flying without more than 15 other people.

I left Louisville at 10:35am heading to Chicago. On this flight I sat next to a young lady who was from Eastern Kentucky! So we talked about the mountains and how awesome Appalachia is. She was heading out to California for a week of hiking and relaxing with some friends. It was cool to have the opportunity to talk about a place that is very dear to my heart with someone who loves the mountains as much if not more than I do. We exchanged numbers and email addresses and I'm sure next time I'm in Eastern Kentucky we'll do some hiking together!

My flight landed in Chicago at 10:35am (Yes, same time I took off...gotta love the time changes) and I had a little over an hour to wait for my next flight. After boarding the plane a few of us were chatting and the young lady behind me was a YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) working in New Orleans. Another lady across the isle from her was a Pastor from San Francisco who is coming to GA for her 12th time!!!

I got my luggage and spotted the local volunteers who had these very nifty aprons on with teh PCUSA emblem. They took our luggage and led us to the bus! As I boarded the bus for the hotels I found myself surrounded by Presbyterians from all over the states sharing fun stories of how they had come to Minneapolis.

After a few challenges checking into the hotel and registering for the Assembly a group of us got together to go out to dinner. I was surrounded by people from ALL over the United States. Alaska, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia, and New Jersey...we all walked the streets of Minneapolis finally settling for some Panera Bread. Then we took the Skywalk (sidewalk that is inside running throughout the city) back to the registration area to get a few questions answered and returned to our hotel for a little swimming.

It has been an exciting day meeting so many people from all over who are excited to be here! We have orientation tomorrow beginning at 9am and I look forward to seeing what the day holds for all of us.