Our Children, the PCUSA General Assembly and the Future
Blessed to be a commissioner to the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Detroit this June, I have publicly vowed to vote from start to finish as the majority of the Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) do. Reaction to this commitment has been mixed, from both older and younger Presbyterians. Some of the most provocative comments, from both young and old, respond to my use of the word “children.”
Who are our children and what are they to us? What is their place in the PCUSA?
I confess that one central influence upon me in answering these questions is not from Scripture. It is in the cultural canon of my generation, given to me in my youth: Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet, particularly his reflection upon children set to song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Gibran writes,
They are the sons and the daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them just like you.
While this view may not come from the Bible, it fits well with the essential truth that we are all beloved children of God, first and foremost. Jesus called God Father and encouraged us all to do the same. Old and young are all, at heart, children of God.
Even in the past—when the elder generation was the primary teacher for the surviving and thriving of the younger—the parents were what Gibran calls “bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” This is even more so now, when technology is changing life experience so swiftly.
Truly, the introduction of a new dimension we call cyberspace leaves most in my generation struggling to grasp what is natural for our youth. Particularly at this moment in time, I am asking my generation, “Who are we to judge, when we simply cannot know what the church of the future will require?” In the 21st century, our children are the ones, more than ever, with the wisdom of “the house of tomorrow.”
I remain committed to my calling to vote with the YAADs, trusting that their wisdom—inspired by the Holy Spirit who inspires us all and facile in 21st century ways—can best lead the PCUSA to tomorrow.
Can any of you, younger or older, tell me I am wrong in this? Does it make sense to you that I am inspired by the Holy Spirit to vote with the leaders of the future in the PCUSA at the General Assembly? Might you also be so inspired, whatever your role at GA or your place in the PCUSA?
Thank you in advance for your prayerful response.