Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pro Christo et pro Ecclesia Eius

This evening we had a special called presbytery meeting, and I don't know if I was a champion of the faith and a defender of the interests of the Presbytery, or just a nitpicking pain in the rear.

Well, no, I do know where the truth lies in this, and it's only my ingrained cowardice and reluctance to do anything that might cause anyone not to like me that has me making that serio-comic comment.

In light of the upheavals going on in the Presbyterian Church (USA), my presbytery appointed a task force to draft guideline documents on a number of crucial issues. Such as, what we as a presbytery believe, how we will deal with churches that choose to lodge protests against denominational policy by withholding all or a portion of their per capita assessments, how the presbytery will work with churches who are so fed up with current PC(USA) shenanigans that they want to bolt altogether, and other such matters.

Tonight was the second reading. Amendments were solicited by the presbytery office. I submitted six-- two on matters of content, three on matters of clarity, and one (which I withdrew) on a matter of style.

Three passed; the others failed, one by only one vote. I couldn't help but wonder what people thought about me going to the mike so many times. But if I were convinced the body would be helped or harm to it prevented by the proposed change, did my self-consciousness really matter?

The irony of the evening for me was the comments of one task force member who kept speaking against my rewording suggestions by saying the present text was perfectly clear to the members of the task force.

Yes, and when I do a set of drawings and specs, when I've been working on a particular design for months on end, my intention is perfectly clear to me, too. But then the project goes out to bid, and hey, voici, the bidding contractors don't find every last thing perfectly clear. And out comes the good old Addendum form, to be distributed to one and all.

Tonight was a chance for those outside the process to bring fresh eyes and clarity to the project, in effect before it went to final "bid." I and a handful of others did what we could.

As for the language that remains vague, I suppose as long as we have the framers around, they can give us an interpretation. I suppose there's no point in worrying that looseness and uncertainty in these documents could get us into trouble twenty, thirty miles down the road. The rate my denomination is lurching towards self-destruction, a little vagueness on our part won't make a lot of difference. And if the PC(USA) is still around thirty years from now, that'll be such a miracle that anything we did tonight will be outshone into oblivion.


(There's a postscript to tonight's performance: I woke up this morning with a sloppy, drippy sinus cold and took a couple decongestant tablets before I drove off to the meeting. When I got home-- just after my renewed drippiness had induced me to take two more-- I happened to read on the box that they're 24 hour pills! Oops! You mean I was on twice the recommended dose when I was at presbytery? You mean that's the cause of the slight unreality I felt this evening, the sense of distance that took my craven gut out of the picture and kept me moving to the mike to propose and defend my submissions? Looks like it! [Insert Cowper reference here.]

(As for now with four of those one-per-day pills under my belt, I'd say too much Sudafed makes you jumpy, not drowsy. But I won't go get behind the wheel to find out for sure.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well, I Suppose It IS Starting Already

Tonight was the first rehearsal for the 2007-2008 season of the Village Singers, in which I sing soprano.

You can always tell when Linda, our director, has been off to another choral conductors' conference in the vacation. Tonight we practiced making human A-frames, to share tone and resonance, and maybe a few nits while we were at it.

We also began to practice this season's Christmas music. As usual, we have a whole calendar of concerts in December, and we have to start now so by then we'll be able to achieve the sound and ensemble that Linda now hears only in her head.

And as much as I gripe about the culture making us focus on Christmas too early, there's a way in which early preparation is inextricably tied to the season.

God, after all, started preparing for Christmas-- that is, for the Incarnation of His Son-- as far back as the Garden of Eden.

All that process of the call of Abraham: of Israel's slavery in Egypt and their deliverance from it: of kings and prophets and exile and restoration: all that was God getting ready and getting His people ready for Christmas.

And Christmas itself is about the Son of God getting ready to die on the cross for our sins. And the cross was preparation for Christ's resurrection, and the resurrection for His ascension into heaven, and His ascension into heaven was preparation for the sending of the Holy Spirit and the birth and commissioning of the Church.

Preparation after preparation after preparation! From of old to the present and into the future! All this preparation, getting ready for the great eternal feast that God has planned for His people when He makes all things new. That will be the ultimate holiday. That will be when we finally can sit down forever and rest and enjoy.

In the meantime, we're in choir working on music for Advent and Christmas of 2007. And yeah, we do have to start getting ready now.