No need to use some lame metaphor for this occasion.
The Reformed Church in America has just adopted the Belhar Confession as a fourth standard of unity for our church. I have to admit that I was more moved by the affirming response than I had imagined. At first I thought it was because I had invest so much time and energy over the past few days in the conversation and proposal (realizing it pales in comparison to those who have been working for decades on this). However, I think it was more that I feel that the RCA affirmed that they believe what I believe.
To give you a small window in to the process of offering advice, we had difficulty in crafting advice that clearly reflected the the advice of the whole synod. We had to wrestle with words that often seem so insignificant in other writings; words like "some" or "others" or "many." We had to decide if it really was accurate to say that "so many people said..." Often times we couldn't be so emphatic with certainty and would simply have to say "some." However, in one regard we felt confident that we could write "so many." And that is "so many people told us that they were ready to live out their faith."
I think this is what resonated with me the most and what makes this moment such a special one. It seems that the voice of the people revealed the prompting, the urging, the pulling, of the Spirit of God. There was a hunger in "so many" people to enter into ministries of reconciliation and justice and unity. Some of them just needed the permission as one pastor said when he considered preaching on issues of justice and privilege. Others needed the courage and, still others, needed the assurance that all of this talk of unity and justice and reconciliation was faithful to God's Word and to the calling on God's church. So many people now know that the RCA now believes what they believe.
For those who are still uncertain about the need for a new confession I'll offer once more my thoughts on that. Each of our previous three confessions arose out of conflict that was physically violent at times. It's difficult for us to imagine that such conflict over theological disputes around the Lord's Supper or the depravity of man should result in violence, but it did. The church responded with confessions to take a stand on the issues at hand and in hopes that the church could find unity. Since that time, the conflicts and violence have not ceased. However, the reasons for violence have changed. Since that time violence has erupted around issues of gender, of race, of class, of tribe. Out of the violence, cries arose, "God help us." Too often the church stared, perhaps with tears, but did nothing in response; their silence implying that God does not care about such "political" or "social" struggles and forgetting that God's children were dying.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, the church has answered those cries, belatedly for the past, but just in time for the future. We acknowledge their pain. We acknowledge worth. We acknowledge with them that God does care about their suffering. We have now said that we believe what they believe. In adopting the Belhar Confession as a standard of our faith we have taken a stand to say that God is a God of justice as much as God is three-in-one, that Jesus is much a reconciler of races as he is God incarnate, that the Spirit moves for unity as much as for morality. Having adopted the Belhar as a Standard of Unity, no one ever again can say otherwise. And to those who try the RCA now says, "We DO NOT believe what you believe."
I am proud of the Reformed Church in America and I say "Thank you."