Some people compare the General Assembly to a family reunion. That is part of the experience. We are one family of faith. We are united in shared faith, ministry, and heritage. Like any family, we love getting together! There is a lot of joy in the experience of seeing one another. I once heard a United Church of Christ minister speak to another UCC person this word of caution: "Don't ever say anything bad about a Disciples minister to another Disciple. They all know each other!" In other words, we both know and care about one another! And, really, that is a lot like how the Assembly goes. All the connections and friendships that we have built up over the years get renewed every other year. Old ties are strengthened, and each one encourages the other for the tasks ahead.
Another reason that the General Assembly is so very important is that the event reminds us that even as we are autonomous congregations, each one mostly take care of ourselves, we are not alone in ministry. We, each little church on the corner, are part of the one big Church. Our mission that seems small and local, is also connected to something global. One of our founders, Thomas Campbell, said, "The Church of Jesus Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one." He was talking about all the followers of Jesus Christ. And his point was that God's plan is that all believers should see themselves not merely as members of separate congregations, and separate denominations, but as part of the whole body of believers. And we should act in ways that draw us together in shared mission, that is bigger than what we can do separately. When we gather at General Assembly with other believers from around the U.S. and around the world, we get a good reminder of what that means. From rural areas and from cities, young and old, more liberal or more conservative, gay and straight, we come together to be reminded that we are all connected in Christ.
So pray for us this coming week as we gather. The theme of the event is "Soar," and the theme scripture is: "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall seek and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) So when vickie and I get back, we can look forward to soaring together.