One of the things I love about the Presbyterian Church is its rotation of leadership. Every time our national church entity meets – the General Assembly – we elect a new Moderator. This is the equivalent of the Presbyterian Pope. On a personal note, it is an honor to have a number of former moderators follow my Morning Reflections. The world truly has become small through technology.
Just this weekend our General Assembly gathered again. It is often a time of hearty debate about the future of the church, peppered with numerous hot button issues. It is not easy to step into leadership roles at this level – you often are painting a big red target on yourself. But this is what we do in our church – elect leaders who guide the church and discern the spirit. Rarely does the whole congregation vote on hot button issues. Instead it is the board of elders that deals with stuff like this (the session) or in the national church’s case, the General Assembly.
Just yesterday they did something quite new, electing co-moderators for the first time, to share the mantle of leadership. If you are interested in all the happenings: Watch the live stream of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) here . You can also follow the daily news at: pcusa.org/ganews
Interestingly enough I turned to our Numbers passage and it involves some similar struggles. It is the revolt of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who stand before Moses and Aaron and let em have it. The struggle is over leadership – specifically secular or sacred leadership in the tabernacle. Levites or Reubenites, or the whole congregation. Who is to be in charge.
Moses and Aaron are accused of being attention hogs, electing themselves as leaders and not allowing anyone else to approach God.
This is the beginning of many things. The Levites are assigned specific duties in the Lord’s tabernacle, and are quickly learning that their spiritual gifts are in the area of worship. The Levites are the first Worship Committee! Isn’t this the case in all our churches? There are always some who have special gifts in the area of worship leadership. They become the Altar Guild or the Worship Team/Committee/Leaders.
Leadership in the context of serving the Lord is an important thing for us to look at here. We are members of a religious order in which we acknowledge God is leading us. And yet we have leaders in our midst. What is their place? Are we all allowed to approach the throne of grace? The Reformation had some different angles on the direction the Roman Catholic church had taken this answer.
And yet, being Protestants and believing in the priesthood of all believers, we still have leaders.
That is because, just like in this story, we all have gifts. We must discern them and learn our place, for in it we will find much joy and God’s grace will seem all the more bright. This is at the heart of vocational discernment. When one’s strengths intersect with the world’s need, there is much rejoicing.
In Matthew, Jesus blesses the little children. They are innocent and without agenda. Children are full of ambition. Jesus welcomes them, “for such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Children are ambitious about the future. In fact, they are forward looking machines. They also are open to being loved, being led, and being shepherded. This was the quality lacking in Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and the gang.
Let us open our hearts to not only leading in our vocation, but taking another’s lead in theirs. Let us pray for our GA as they lead us into GOD’s NEW FUTURE. Yes, you heard me right. It is not their future, but Christ’s will that is being discerned. At the end of the day, this is how God leads us forward, just as he did in Numbers and Matthew.