08 March 2010

Lent: day 17

“I find hope in the wilderness when…”

“…I get to see my ‘rainbow friends.’” I am what is commonly termed a “GA junkie.” It doesn’t matter where the General Assembly is being held, I want to be there and so does my entire family. My wife and co-pastor started attending with me in 1996. My 21-year-old daughter has literally grown up going to General Assemblies, including serving as a YAD and a Youth Liaison with the Covenant Network. But it’s our 8-year-old son who really helps put it in perspective. Whenever he hears we’re going to another General Assembly, he gets excited and says, “I get to see my rainbow friends!”

He’s used that term ever since he was 4 years old, attending the 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham. Our family was there and his sister was serving as a YAD and when his parents were busy, people at the booths of the Witherspoon Society, Voices of Sophia, and More Light Presbyterians took turns playing with him and making him feel welcome. Our son’s experience with his “rainbow friends” has made him feel a special connection within the church.

It’s those “rainbow friends” that also give me hope. I don’t attend the General Assembly simply to help work on social justice issues; I attend because I need to experience the kind of welcoming and hopeful atmosphere that I feel in the presence of fellow Presbyterians. While I look forward to that wonderful worship service where thousands of Presbyterians gather on a Sunday morning at the beginning of the Assembly, it still doesn’t compare to the More Light worship service where so many different voices are raised in song and where there is a real sense of praise to God. Somehow, when we gather in a place where all of us come together as “strangers” and we get the chance to see the great variety of humanity present in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), my hope is renewed that we will begin to appreciate our differences and not merely tolerate them, or worse, to use those differences to separate us from one another.

It’s my “rainbow friends” that give me hope and I give thanks for them daily.

The Rev. Mitch Trigger
Rockaway, New Jersey

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