And now it begins
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?..." Acts 1.11
What appeared to be the climax of the Jesus story turned out to be the beginning of the Church story. And so it is that endings become beginnings and the story continues into another chapter. It was with such sentiments that the General Assembly of 2023 was dismissed yesterday. A week of speeches, reports, debates, votes and stirring worship behind us, we were exhorted to return to our homes and parishes a start - or, rather, continue - putting it all into practice.
On balance it was a good-natured event. Everyone was cordial and the "party spirit", that often rears its ugly head in broad church gatherings, was conspicuous by its absence. Yet it was difficult to say whether that was due to the aroma of harmony descending, or the rising levels of exhaustion engulfing people already stretched beyond their limit. I confess that I emerge feeling "semi-detached", a stranger in my own (spiritual) home.
It begs the question: where to from here? The Lord only knows. We trust that the Church of Christ will march on until the victory of Jesus is complete. What part the Church of Scotland will play in the process is less certain. That will depend upon the degree to which we remain faithful. Otherwise judgment and pruning will hasten our demise. Maybe the Holy Spirit is at work in this, calling us beyond denominationalism so the we no longer have a Church of Scotland but a Church for Scotland, which embraces all genuine believers regardless of our tradition, whose appeal to emerging generations will no longer be compromised by division.