Mid Councils Newsletter, March 23, 2015
musings from the road
A week and a half ago (from when I am writing this), I fled from Louisville earlier than I expected in order to get out before a snowstorm that shut the city down for a day. Barely more than a week later, when I returned home from my work this week, I was greeted by a garden that needed to be attended to immediately. Even though there is still ice and some snow on the north side (the front) of my house, there are also so many bulb flowers sprouting that I had to get right to work doing what I think of as "opening up the beds." I usually rake leaves onto the flower beds to help insulate them for the winter. I have learned over the years that if I do not get those leaves off quickly when the shoots start coming up, I will have hyacinths and tulips and daffodils whose stems have gone right through dead leaves from last year and then it is very hard to get the leaves off.
I think my favorites this time of year, though, are what many people in the Midwest call Resurrection Lilies. You can see a picture of them in bloom with this piece. They come up very early and produce bright green leaves that are kind of sword shaped and grow to about 18 inches tall. There are no blooms in the spring and, if you do not know what you are looking at, you might think that it is some kind of plant that has failed to produce as it should. Then, along about June around here, the leaves die back completely. Once they are dead, you can barely tell where they had been since they just kind of disintegrate. But the plant is not done. There is often a period of very little rain around here from mid-June to early August. Once it rains again in late summer, that is when the true glory of these flowers can be seen. They shoot up once again, but not with leaves this time. There are no leaves at all when they come back. Instead, there are very sturdy, long stems with clusters of lily shaped flowers at the top. They grow so quickly that you might imagine that if you stood there for a half hour you would be able to see them grow. It is a great surprise, this resurrection and beauty when everything else in the flower garden is looking a little worse for wear.
You can see why religious people call them Resurrection Lilies. It looks like all is lost, that the plant is done, that we might as well trudge toward home and not expect anything else to happen in Jerusalem because what held such promise at the start has, apparently, ended in defeat. But then, when we least expect it, when nothing would give us any indication that we should have any hope at all, they burst through the soil and produce something that is related to what went before but is also totally different. If we had given up too soon, if we had dug up the bulbs and thrown them away after the leaves died and there were no blooms produced, we would have missed the whole point.
Easter is coming as it does every year. I hope that this year for you it will be a reminder not to give up hope too soon. Are there small churches in your presbytery that look close to death? Don't give up too soon; they might surprise you. Are there churches that just drive you crazy with all of their demands and complaints? Don't give up too soon. There is some way that God is working through even their craziness. Are there times when you are ready to throw in the towel? Don't give up too soon; you still have the gifts that called you to this work in the first place and you have developed countless more as you have learned the work. In all of these things and everything else that you face in your life, remember the promise of these lilies that remind us of the promise of our faith.
Dear Mid-Council Leaders,
I’m writing to seek your help in promoting the General Assembly’s call to study and comment on a proposed revision to the PC(USA) Directory for Worship. Many of you will recall learning about the revision in workshops at the Polity Conference or Moderators’ Conference. For additional background on the revision process and the season of study, please see http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/9/18/pmab-committee-hears-update-study-process-proposed/ and http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/about/faithful-mission/.
If you haven’t done so already, I hope you might consider inviting members of your presbytery or synod to study and comment on the proposed revision through a newsletter item, email, spoken announcement, or projection slide at a meeting. Below I have provided longer and shorter forms of the announcement. Thanks for considering this invitation. I’m grateful for your partnership in ministry.
David Gambrell, PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship
One of the suggestions of the Reconciliation Task Force was to have a short video that could be used at a presbytery meeting or elsewhere that describes how business comes before a GA. Here is a link to a video that I think you will find very useful—it is kind of along the lines of the old “Schoolhouse Rocks” presentations of our childhoods.
Experience that deep sense of community one would expect at a national gathering of Presbyterians—a great big family reunion! Join us for a wide variety of workshops, all under one Big Tent, a conference that will inspire and equip Presbyterians to live missionally. Click here for more information.
Preachers for Worship Services Include:
Laurene Chan, Director of Youth Ministries, Cameron House
San Francisco Theological Seminary
Paul Roberts, President
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Jana Childers, Professor of homiletics and Speech Communication
San Francisco Theological Seminary