On Friday June 6, 2014 I offered these words (and images) to Albany Presbytery as my first expanded conversation with them as the new Transitional Presbyter. We spent last weekend retreating on Lake George, New York at the Silver Bay YMCA. The theme for the weekend was A Place at the Table, after the beautiful hymn that we all love to bits and pieces that is in the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God. We gathered around the communion table, thought about the theological image of together that is offered to us in our eucharistic theology and also watched the documentary A Place at the Table to talk about hunger, poverty and advocacy as people of a faith. A rich and powerful time. Together.
So what will be some of the themes of our retreat? We are in a time of profound change of course in the life of our church, that is why as a Presbytery we have decided to enter into a transitional time together–to acknowledge that all of our time and lives are in transition and to come alongside of the new thing that we trust that God in Jesus Christ is about in our lives. We will engage this weekend in deep spiritual practices, because spiritual attentiveness but be a primary part of all we do, lest we go down paths we do not seek or that God does not seek for us. This weekend will be a mix of a retreat and regular business meetings, a time for relationship building and above all in this beautiful place of Silver Bay–for holy listening for the whispers and movement of the Spirit.
I would like to suggest that this weekend we ponder the idea of Together. What does it mean to be together in Jesus Christ? It does not mean laying aside who we are at the door, it does not mean burying our emotions or theological positions. It means unity at the Table. It means spiritual friendships. How can we be Together as Albany Presbytery and offer what we are together, with all of its diversity as a sign to the larger church of what faith in Jesus Christ can be? I would like us to take seriously this idea of Together this weekend–especially as we engage the eucharistic theme we have before us through music (For Everyone Born), sacrament (practicing daily communion) and learning (film, A Place at the Table).
Our plan for Friday….
Our plan for Saturday….
A closing thought for the day from Dr. Vincent Harding, speak-writer and friend to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Images are from Shannan Vance-Ocampo and were taken during the Presbytery Leadership Formation event in May 2014 and the Certificate in Executive Leadership class at McCormick Theological Seminary in November 2013. Sailing image is from Creative Commons. Stained glass window images are from the Mayfield Presbyterian Church, these shards of glass were put back together in their communion table and were gathered up after a fire destroyed their church building a few years ago. They re-worked them into their new communion table.