Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stuck in the Middle With You

I returned from General Assembly a few weeks ago. During my first week back, I was busy recovering, not just from the week itself, but from a lovely upper respiratory/sinus infection that progressed rapidly on my way back home. The blogosphere, twitterverse, and internet in general were full of responses to what happened - and what didn't happen - at General Assembly. I continued to ponder my own response.

Though I am very involved in the denomination, it was actually my first experience at General Assembly, and I think it was far different from GAs of the past. I've been processing it ever since. Much could be said, and much has been said already, about the future of the denomination (or denominations in general). I'll refrain from doing so, at least here or now.

Instead, I was struck by a comment from a colleague about our past. He said that in the grand scheme of things, Presbyterians have historically been slow to respond with prophetic voice. So here we are in the middle, and though I don't want to characterize those on my left or right as clowns or jokers, here I am, stuck in the middle with you (the PC (USA)).

Don't get me wrong - I'm not in the middle, and I'm not neutral on many questions, and yet, I find myself constantly struggling to discern what to say. As a pastor, I have developed a general rule of thumb for what I say from the pulpit and what I post publicly: will those members of the congregation who decidedly disagree with where I stand on any given question still feel as comfortable coming to me for pastoral care after I say, write, or post the statement in question? Will my ministry be less effective than it otherwise could be, now or in the future?

It's not just people in the church that make me pause before I post, say on Facebook. I am friends with a number of extended family members with whom I disagree on some major issues. I don't really want to engage in the debate; I'd rather just be family and love them. If questions or issues are raised, I want to discuss those face to face, rather than online, but truth be told, I really don't want to address them at all. Not with family, especially.

And yet, I'm also convicted by those who are hurt by what I don't say. I'm convicted with questions of what I am called to say, and how I might be called to speak a prophetic word. I don't know what the answer is, and I don't feel in any better of a position than my denomination. Here we are - stuck in the middle. May we all continue to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we struggle to be the individuals and the Body of Christ that God created us to be.

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