Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
Lord we are in awe. Those words began a lunchtime prayer at the meeting of the Presbytery of Savannah. It was genuine outpouring of that person’s faith and the collective faith of the people gathered in that space. Let’s explore what this little phrase might mean.
The name for the group that is beyond you and me is we. The sisters and brothers in Christ gathered for a presbytery meeting, for worship, for mutual support, and for encouragement in their individual and common ministries. The Book of Order says in G-1.0101, “… The congregation is the basic form of the church, but it is not of itself a sufficient form of the church. Thus congregations are bound together in communion with one another, united in relationships of accountability and responsibility, contributing their strengths to the benefit of the whole, and are called, collectively, the church.” A basic realization is that church means to be more than just myself alone. It is all of us pulling and pushing together.
The verb that speaks to our present state of being is “are.” We are not in awe of the God in the past tense or in the future tense. We are in awe now. That is not always an easy thing in the middle of whatever struggle we may be in at the moment. It is not unusual for our “are” to be whatever crisis is grabbing our attention. In other words, it is hard to see the awe Lord in the awe shucks moments. Fortunately God does not have that limitation.
The word awe means a mixed feeling of reverence, fear, and wonder. It is the faith times when we fully realize how wondrous the Lord God is. Now that can happen when you see a beautiful sunrise, hear a powerful sermon, or witness the birth of a child. But on this day, just to remind me and those gathered, it happened in the prayer at a presbytery meeting. God’s awe is also realized in the company of people who walk with us on the way. That is awesome.