The View from Here. That’s what we call this column I write each month. Right now, “here” is a chair at one end of a table in front of Synod 2013 behind a sign that reads “Executive Director,” and my heart is full.
Seated before me are about 188 delegates arranged alphabetically according to classes. We have been meeting for four days now. We’re thoroughly engaged, nearing exhaustion, and deepening some brand-new relationships. But most important, we’re absolutely convinced we are serving our God—together.
Permit me to offer some candid observations from “here.”
First, we are a group of devoted Christians. We sing together. We pray together. We hear God’s Word together. Our morning worship is stirring. I wish you could hear it. I know God does.
We are also a group of devoted officebearers. We are elders, chaplains, pastors, and more. Some of us have served for decades, some for years, and some just for months. Some of us have attended synod before; others have not. None of us has served here for more than days. But we are doing that with all our hearts. I wish you could know each of us. I know God does.
We have all now served on an advisory committee. Comprehending the agenda of an advisory committee is like drinking from a fire hose. But we did it for anywhere from 18 to 24 hours over the course of a few days. We considered things we may not have thought about much before. But we gave it our all. I wish you could have been in those committee rooms. I know God was.
We’ve had fun together. We have laughed—often—with, not at, each other. We have cried—not because of but on behalf of one another—even for some we will never have the privilege of meeting. We have prayed together, sometimes reading prayers, sometimes singing them, sometimes speaking, sometimes whispering, sometimes silent—but always intent, always fervent. I wish you all could have been part of it. I know God was.
We’ve discussed matters of enormous significance. We’ve listened to one another. We were listened to when we talked. New thoughts were considered with patience and tolerance. All 188 of us were engaged for hours in a single conversation. We heard. We changed. We grew. We decided. We wished you could have been with us. We know God was.
We tried to keep the big picture in mind, to see more than our own desires, to think of more than our own needs. We tried to think of the whole church. We represented the whole church. We experienced together a taste of God’s Revelation 7 church. We gathered together as brothers and sisters from many races and nations. We prayed and read the Word and sang in many languages. We witnessed a partial fulfillment of the Great Commission. We wish you could have seen it. We know God did.
We’re thinking too about going home. We miss our loved ones. We are also concerned about the churches to which we belong and which we miss dearly. We have been worshiping with that church in mind. We have prayed for her, for you. We have debated and decided on her behalf. We have prayed and worked for her welfare. You have been on our minds and in our hearts all week. We hope you know that. We know God does.
All week long, delegates have been sharing with me how wonderful it has been for them to be here. They have been watching God in action. And they have been blessed. They wish you all could have been here with us. Now maybe you feel a little more like you actually were here. We all are fully convinced God was.
Photos courtesy Karen Huttenga