Finding The Strength For Unity

I'm learning patience this week.  

You see, I am serving as a Commissioner to the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and I am on one of the most challenging committees, with the largest workload.  

Yesterday, we worked from 9AM until nearly 10PM with only a couple of hours of breaks for lunch and dinner.  We worked on very dense overtures to the Assembly, and we did so strictly observing Roberts Rules of Order.  

At one point, I made a motion to amend a motion that was amended from an earlier motion, which we later perfected before approving it in lieu of the original motion.  If you can't make sense of that at all--I don't blame you one iota.   

So back to this patience thing.  

I have a hard time working in large groups with people who can't follow conversations, don't pay attention and who show up late in the midst of a discussion and raise controversial issues that derail the process.  

Seriously, just when we thought we were about to vote on something and move on to the next thing, there would always be at least one person who would rise and say, "I'm sorry, but..." and then would go on to unapologetically set us back an hour.  

At one point after hours upon hours of debate, motions, amendments, amendments to amendments... I began thinking to myself, "No wonder the institutional church is dying.  It can't seem to get out of it's own way."  

But then it happened.  I looked around the room at everyone who had been working with me all day long.  We were all tired.  We were all trying desperately to be civil, and work together respectfully and with diligence.  And we were all learning patience and mutual forbearance together.  

The Apostle Paul was obsessed with unity in the Church.  I say obsessed in the nicest way possible because he wrote about it, exhorted his listeners, railed at church leaders and essentially made unity one of the most important aspects of his theology.  To the Church in Rome he wrote, 

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It sometimes takes endurance to work toward having one mind and one voice with our sisters and brothers.  But as Paul says, here in his letter to the Romans, it is God who not only provides the endurance to work toward unity, but God who provides the encouragement as we move down that path together.  

May you find ways this week to build common ground with people you might disagree with, and forge a new way forward with them.  May you determine not to give up on striving for unity in your church.  May you find opportunities to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ by being of one mind and one voice with your sisters and brothers in Christ.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen. 


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