Reflections and Prayer for the General Assembly, from Harriet Sandmeier…

After attendance and work at 15 General Assemblies it feels strange not to be heading toward Detroit. But while I will not be present physically I have been reading with great interest the plethora of analysis, opinion and prognostication expressed with ever increasing urgency as GA approaches.

And all of this immersion in reading from the plethora of pundits within the denomination has me pondering and prayerful at the same time.

Oh, I have opinions on many of the issues this GA will deal with, but I need not add them to all that is already extant. Rather, I have been reflecting on how our beloved denomination has wandered away from boldly expressing its prophetic voice on profoundly serious moral, ethical, theological, social justice, and – yes – political issues facing us both nationally and internationally.

Rather, our family in-fighting has consumed so much of our energies that there is little spirit left to speak out on what fractures the very fabric of what we call a democracy. We have been called by God to build relationships for the good of all, yet we openly reject that divine call as we wallow in name-calling cat fights.

Where will courage be found at this General Assembly? Where and how will we acknowledge that Presbyterians have always been a cantankerous bunch, but that much good has been done as we have wrestled with difficult issues? How will we acknowledge that when we have acted in good faith (both literally and figuratively) we have come out of our deliberations and work strengthened as the body of Christ?

I have been thinking about that courageous group of men who gathered in secret in that famous room in Philadelphia over 200 years ago. The drafters of the Declaration of Independence would have been hanged as traitors had they been captured by the Loyalists. But meet they did, and precisely because of their courage and prophetic voice this nation was born.

I invite you to join me in a prayer that this assembly will be less about satisfying individual positions (and egos) and all about discerning God’s call. Disagree? Sure! But respect each other. Truly listen and hear each other. Let Agape love prevail throughout the week. Be of good spirit. Be strong. Be courageous. And be prophetic.

May it be so!

Harriet Sandmeier
Commissioned Elder for Preaching and Teaching
Former Stated Clerk
Presbytery of Hudson River