Every year, the teaching and ruler elders of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) come together for their annual General Assembly. Much like many governing bodies, the PCA functions on the idea that a majority of people will come to the best decisions – a kind of “safety in numbers” type of thinking – hopeful that the Spirit of God will move most people toward a peaceable, reasonable agreement on matter of the utmost importance.
I will admit that I, at times, put these godly people on pedestals. I want them to be better than most of us. I want them, like I want all people in positions of such power and authority, to be the best of us. It would be logical that they are, but it isn’t always probable is it? We’ve seen these leaders fall dramatically. Oh, what we’ve seen! We’ve seen our leaders who are supposed to show us a better way, show us the worst possible ways of acting and reacting, to opposition, to conflict, to slander, to so very many things, inevitable things that happen to leaders throughout history. But I still hope. I still see the best in people even in the midst of showing us the worst. I want to believe that God is still moving and working in his own, by his own, for his own, through his own. So I pray this week that the men and women who have gathered in His name this week will be better.
Show us how to do conflict. Show us that all that time in prayer and studying Scripture has made a difference in the way you argue and disagree. You’ve gone to seminary, you’ve been tried and tested, usually more than once, and you’ve continued to study and grow in knowledge and, more importantly, grace. Prove it now. Prove to us that all that you tell us on Sundays is practical and wise. Prove that the more you seek the shalom of the kingdom the more it will be evident in a group of people who are professional shalom bringers. Give us hope that God’s remnant will always seek and find a better way, a higher way. Bring light and life to those who need it desperately, starting with yourselves first. Speak the Gospel to each other fervently and winsomely. Remind us that everything you work for, strive for, live for, pray for is in action in every word, thought, and deed on the floor all week long and into the wee hours of the morning if need be.
We look to you to lead us, to direct us, to guide, first by word every Sunday in worship, and then by action and deed. We need shepherds. We need good, faithful, firm, gentle, hopeful, committed, battle-worn and battle-tried shepherds. I don’t believe that the American church has ever been so weary, confused, uneasy, divided, and shaken to the core as it is now. We don’t need Jesus more than ever. Make no mistake, we have always desperately needed him. We do need more clarity. We do need more hope. We do need direction and, most of all, as always, we do need more grace. This is your time to show us how that’s done. Dear Lord, show us through your people. May your Bride shine brightest in these hours, this week, as your servant-leaders humbly seek your face in this land for such a time as this.
And may the force be with you…
(sorry I had to)