I want to share a written version of my report to the Presbytery of Boise at its meeting today. I find at certain times, the written word (at least mine) is far better than the attempt to speak the word (at least, mine).
I woke up this morning with a song playing in a seemingly never-ending loop in my head. I haven’t been able to get the tune or the words out of my head and there is one specific phrase in its refrain that keeps repeating itself in this loop.
The song is James K. Manley’s tune, Spirit, which I learned many years ago and is part of the old Presbyterian Hymnbook. (A new hymnal, Glory to God, was published and made available last year.) The refrain of the hymn says,
Spirit, spirit of gentleness
Blow thru the wilderness, calling and free.
Spirit, spirit of restlessness,
Stir me from placidness.
Wind, wind on the sea.
Its the phrase, “stir me from placidness” that keeps loopingin my brain and heart as I reflect on the task of our presbytery in casting a vision for the future. What began as a conversation at our February presbytery meeting continued today as we broke into specific focus groups to discuss our ideas of building a presbytery. It is evidence of the Spirit stirring us from placidness in our presbytery and such stirrings can be exciting.
God’s people – found in the Church, denominations, councils and even in congregations – always face the temptation of becoming placid in our relationships with one another and with God. We become content with the status quo. We tell ourselves and others not to rock the boat. Our motto becomes “we always do it the same way.”
Having awakened with this song playing in my head and heart, I took a look at its words. My surprise (it may not be one to you) was that it is a prayer. It is a modern day psalm that recounts the mighty acts of God in the past but looks forward to what God is doing in our midst even today. The final verse moves from the past to the future with the affirmation, “With bold new decisions, your people arise.”
I recognize how clearly this song should be for our presbytery in this time of visioning. This year has become one in which the Spirit is stirring Boise Presbytery from its placidness and inviting…no, leading us to make some bold new decisions about our future. We had become a presbytery of have-to’s and governed by a spirit (little s) named Thou Shalt Not. This Spirit is leading us to consider how we might become a presbytery of what-if’s and governed by a spirit of Possibility
I am excited that we have begun seeing a new vision for our future and to witness how the Spirit (big S) has begun stirring us from placidness to a new time and way of being a part of the body of Christ. I am thankful for the members of our task force and for those who participate in our focus groups for lending your voices to this conversation.
I will confess that such an undertaking a move away from placidness is filled with contrasting feelings – anticipation and anxiety; hopefulness and sheer terror – at whatever direction the Spirit blows us toward. Yet, trusting the One who sends this wind or breath or Spirit, I am confident that we will be stronger and blessed by such a move from placidness.