This weekend – and for only the third time in her ministry – Rebekah was presented at a meeting of Presbytery for examination prior to her official reception into membership.
The meeting was held in the lovely and historic New Bern Presbyterian Church. We started with worship, communion, and then various items of business before lunch, more business, and then the presentation of four ministers moving to the Presbytery of New Hope from other locations.
The gathering was dignified and traditional, but at the same time very much filled with a real passion for the good news of the Gospel of Love; it was good for me to have the opportunity to get a feel for New Hope and to meet some of the pastors who will be Rebekah’s colleagues in ministry here in North Carolina.
UP FRONT: Finally, it was time for Rebekah to stand at the podium and introduce herself, and – no surprise – she demonstrated exactly how good she is at thinking on her feet.
The previous preacher had shared a touching story about how “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” had become her favorite scripture at the time of her daughter’s birth. Later, the child claimed the same verse as her own…
…As I said, it was touching. Then Rebekah took the podium. She leisurely surveyed the crowd of preachers and elders, most of whom were seeing her for the first time.
“I can tell you right now that quoting scripture was the last thing I was thinking about when I was giving birth,” was all she said.
There was a pause, a moment when what Rebekah said hung in the air like a fly ball waiting to drop. Then the laughter came. Not a polite twitter, nor a chuckle, nor even a peal of laughter; but a wave, a seismic movement of side-slapping mirth. The place erupted.
Thereafter the people hung on Rebekah’s testimony till she was done; at moments laughing, at moments, nodding, at moments wiping away a tear or two; and when she had finished they didn’t wait for the vote to respond with polite “golf-applause,” but spontaneously affirmed her presence there with an enthusiastic ovation.
SUPPORT: It was a good day. We enjoyed the supportive presence of a pew-full of Wake Forest Presbyterians who made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to New Bern, we had the opportunity to meet some good folk, and we were introduced to some more of our new home state.
But, most importantly, we both realized again how wide and how beautiful is the body of Christ, and we both found ourselves thinking about the words of Jesus, from his amazing prayer at that pivotal last dinner party with his closest friends:
I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21)
How wide and how beautiful is the body of Christ. To the extent that this is true, then the people of this world will believe. - DEREK