Several of you asked why I wasn’t at the year end barbecue last Sunday. The reason is that I was at Synod, the annual general meeting of the denomination to which we belong (the Christian Reformed Church in North America) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I wasn’t supposed to go as I was the “alternate to the alternate.” In other words, what almost never happens, happened. BOTH people who were scheduled to go ahead of me couldn’t go for valid reasons, so I was compelled to go.
Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with Synod. On the one hand, it makes important decisions regarding the direction of the Church. Moreover, it’s always good to connect with people I haven’t seen for a while; that is, old seminary buddies and friends from back east. On the other hand, it’s a whole week of meetings from 8 AM in the morning to 9:30 at night, excluding Sunday, and not all of it is scintillating. Certain people trundle up to the microphone time and time again to make what in my opinion are fairly obvious points. So the Lord was teaching me the spiritual fruit of patience last week.
All that being said, there are some pretty wonderful things going on in our denomination. We enjoyed hearing from fraternal delegates from places like Egypt, Nigeria and Korea. We heard about some amazing work that is being done among Muslim Syrian and African refugees in Europe. They have become wide open to the gospel in light of hatred and blood shed they experienced in their Muslim homelands. We heard about some great work being done in the area of racial reconciliation, especially among African American folks and aboriginal people in the United States. Indeed, the love of Christ is changing hearts and uniting people all around the world. Worshipping together was another highlight. All kinds of new music from all kinds of places is becoming part of the worship life of the Church. I sang in Navajo, Spanish, Arabic and Punjabi last week. Pretty cool.
Not everything was great. From my perspective, the CRC didn’t go far enough in figuring out how to pastor and include people with same sex attractions. We had an historic opportunity, but we missed it. For me personally, it was very frustrating, but we soldier on.
All in all, actually belonging to a denomination is an amazing thing. Families are hard to hold together now a day. Church families are even harder. Denominational families harder still. But, we left Grand Rapids united and passionate about the work of the church. I’m still glad to call myself a Reformed Christian and member of the Christian Reformed Church. In fact, I think I’m going to teach a class this fall at The River called, “What Does It Mean to Be Reformed”. Maybe you’d be interested.
BTW, if you weren’t in church yesterday and you missed my sister Michelle’s message, do yourself a favour and listen to it on line. She was great.