Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Good Ship PCUSA - Day 1

Jack Haberer (of the Outlook editor) recently wrote an article titled, “A Sailor’s Retrospective.” He called 2006 a year of “unsmooth sailing” for the PCUSA. An understatement if I have ever heard one. His article went on to list the varied topics the Outlook has covered over that time. I believe that the Outlook does a good job at presenting the differing views of the issues before the PCUSA.

Jack should never have used a sailing example. As a sailor, any article linking sailing and the Christian faith is a must read for me. The second reason he should not have used the sailing example is that it causes this sailor to think…

There are many reasons why a boat and its crew experience unsmooth sailing: some have to do with the weather, some with the crew, some with the water and some with the boat. Over the next few days I am going to look at these items that help cause unsmooth sailing—as they relate to the PCUSA. I will be over-simplifying some of the sailing details so as not to bore you!

One of my brothers once said to me, “Why would anyone want to sail in Washington State? In the summer when it is nice there is not enough wind and in the winter when there is lots of wind it is colder than crud.” He had a good point—that is part of the reason why I like to sail in the Caribbean! The air temperature is 80 – 85 degrees. The water is 82- 84 degrees. It is as beautiful under the water as it is above the water. And then there is limin’. “Limin’” is kicking back on island time and just relaxing, enjoying the people, the beach and life. Limin’ is what many people want in their church. They want it to be a place to go to recuperate from all of life’s ups and downs. Limin’ at a church allows you to rest your weary bones. In the British Virgin Islands (BVI) limin’ can involve sailing from one beautiful anchorage to another. I come back from the BVI ready to face whatever comes my way.

The church should be a place where people can go to be restored and refreshed by our God. He can sooth the broken hearter and heal the wounded. He can bring hope to the hopeless and courage to the weak at heart. Psalm 23 calls it restoring the soul.

Take a few moments and check out the video of Southern Ocean sailing. This is not a video of limin’! This video represents the “unsmooth sailing” that Haberer mentioned. The people in the video are professional sailors racing around the world. They purposely sail the Southern Oceans because it is the shortest way around the world. The Southern Oceans also have some of the worst sailing conditions on the globe! These racing teams have boats especially designed for this task. Each team has professional weather forecasters and shore-based teams to guide the boat on its journey. Still, some of these boats do not survive the trip. No sane person would want to be in such conditions for weeks at a time.

This brings us back to the “unsmooth sailing” of the Presbyterian Church (USA). People will endure “unsmooth sail” conditions--for a while. There comes a point in time when people say enough is enough—they just want to get off the ship. Some ships need to be abandoned—others don’t. So, please join me as I look at the good ship PCUSA and “unsmooth sailing.”


At 9:46 AM , Blogger the very left reverend said...

The church should be a place where people can go to be restored and refreshed by our God. He can sooth the broken hearted and heal the wounded.

I'd rather think of the church as a place where people are sent out to tend to the wounded and the weary, rather than expect them to come to us. Your 23rd Psalm allusion never makes reference to the sheep fold.


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