This Thanksgiving Hymn was written by Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons from First Presby...
Getting ready to gather
If you’re plugged in to the Facebook world, you may have seen the recent trend of status updates that goes something like this: I’m so [name your town] I remember when ___________. I grew up in Longview, Texas, and wanted to post this: “I’m so Longview, I remember my mom sipping a Tab while we swam in the pool at the Holiday Inn on Highway 80.” Reflecting on the “I’m so _________” trend made me a bit nostalgic. I giggled to myself as I thought about how this might apply to life in ECO.
- I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was simply a Spirit-filled concept…
- I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was called the “NRB…”
- I’m so ECO, I remember our first gathering in Minneapolis…
The nostalgia grasped me as I’ve been preparing for our upcoming National Gathering in Dallas. I loved Keith Hill’s blog last week, Dallas in August!? I found myself vocalizing an “Amen” to all of his points about why he’s counting down the days until we gather. I thought I would follow his lead with a few additional thoughts on preparing for our time together.
Yea, yea, I know this goes without saying, but I’m trying to be intentional about praying daily for the Gathering. It’s amazing to me all the moving parts and details involved in putting together such an event. And, this isn’t just an event like any other. The Gathering will be Spirit-filled with worshiping, teaching and learning, information sharing, decision-making, and joyfully fellowshipping. I’m praying for each person involved at every level, for safe travels for all, for Spirit-filled teaching and leading, for the discussion and business in our Synod meeting, and for God’s hand to be on each and every detail, among other things.
Once again, the line up of speakers for the Gathering is top-notch, and I look forward to being inspired and challenged by what they have to say and teach. I’m not sure I’ll have time to read all the books they’ve written, but I do plan to peruse their websites, familiarize myself with their ministries, and look forward to pondering what they might have to say and how it relates to our life in ECO.
As an extreme extrovert, an event like the Gathering is my ideal scenario! I love connecting names and faces with folks I haven’t met yet and catching up with folks who I haven’t seen in a while. The Gathering presents such a wonderful and unique opportunity to celebrate and dance in the joy of our like-mindedness. I want to especially encourage that if your church hasn’t gotten connected in a Mission Affinity Group, then the Gathering is a great place to connect. Or, if you’re a pastor and in need of a Pastoral Covenant Group, ask around at the Synod meeting or check out our Fellowship brothers and sisters and look for potential folks with whom to connect.
I find time spent at past Gatherings is much like attempting to drink water out of a fire hose. There are never enough hours in the day to catch up with everyone I want to see or meet or ponder the different things we’re experiencing. So, to get the most out of our time together, I’m psyching myself up for getting up earlier than normal and staying up later than normal and being stretched a lot more than normal. I can’t wait for that feeling I’ve had at past Gatherings—the combination of both exhaustion and exhilaration combined in one. This feeling has propelled me forth as we depart into the next steps of Kingdom-building to which God has called us. Bring it on!
One last thing… I’m so ECO, I remember the tone and the encouragement from our first gathering in Minneapolis. Remember John Crosby and Jim Singleton encouraging us to not be a movement driven by anger? These words are as important as ever two years later, especially as some of us (including me! which I have confessed and repented unto the Lord) are tempted to look at the actions of the PC(USA) with anger that grows into snarky arrogance or a condescending spirit. These things have no place within our ECO life together. Yet one more thing I’m keeping in mind as I prepare for the joy-ride of the Gathering come August 18-20th! See you soon!