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.
There is this space between the Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday when we return to ordinary time in the church calendar. In ordinary time there are still plenty of extraordinary occasions. There is this general sense of leaning into the New Year. We get a lot of ordinary questions during these days. Questions such as “what is the proper order for committee reports at a congregational meeting?” Questions like “which is better, a pipe organ or electric?” Or, “can I count the Smiths on our statistical report even though they never joined?”
In a season where the church is wrestling with big questions, these questions may seem unimportant. A congregation is a collection of people wrestling with their own questions big and small. Who is God and how am I forgiven in Jesus Christ? Should I speak to Alice who just lost her husband when I don’t know the right words to say?
I think when we ask, we open ourselves up to new possibilities. We acknowledge that we don’t know everything. We make ourselves vulnerable to other’s wisdom and experiences. When we ask the scriptures questions we are drawn into narratives as insightful and complicated as our own. Quarreling kings, hungry beggars, desperate sisters are there. Hands raised in alleluias, hands committing violence, hands reaching for Jesus are all there too. Big stories and small stories tell us the long story of God with all of our questions and questionable behaviors.
What is your question in this ordinary time? What big answer to your small question will move your heart? What big answer to your small question will help you find your path down the road to greater faithfulness?
In the months ahead our grandson will start to talk. Having walked that walk before I know there will be lots of questions big and small. I am looking forward to it. I am hoping I will have greater patience this time around. I am hoping that I can focus less on my answers and more on his journey of discovery. And maybe he will teach me some things too.