Carried forward by the river—Day 5, July 22
After four days of education and inspiration, the 2012 Churchwide Gathering ended on Sunday, July 22 with worship. The 2012–2015 moderator team for Presbyterian Women offered this blessing to close and carry forward all the Gathering offered: Living God, bless us as together we go out, empowered by our longing, strengthened by our solidarity, humbled by our need, to love and serve the world. Amen.
By Jessica Reid
Words and music of worship filled the plenary hall on Sunday, July 22, the last morning of Presbyterian Women’s 2012 Churchwide Gathering in Orlando, Florida. More than 2,000 voices came together as one to praise God on the bright Sunday morning before hearing Kathryn Threadgill’s closing worship. Kathryn serves as an associate pastor for youth and Christian education at Government Street Presbyterian Church in Mobile, Alabama, and she came with a message: hope floats.
“If you are like me, then, you cannot help but to be overwhelmed by the realities of this world, and the things we’ve been educated on [during the Gathering],” she told the audience. “You cannot help but to hear the ministries taking place all around this world, and [wonder why] the immense suffering and pain still persists. You cannot help but want to tell others, get involved, and change the world! It’s time to strap on our boots and get busy!”
“So, what do we do when we leave this place?” she asked before providing an unexpected answer. “We be still. We float and we come to know God. We float in the River of God’s hope.”
Kathryn says we must give ourselves over to God. She said that the world has serious problems and it can be overwhelming as we try to solve them all. She adds that it is easy to feel like “floating” is childish and a luxury we do not have while suffering continues. Kathryn acknowledged that she too has felt this pull and ached because she felt she just couldn’t do enough to help others or ease their pain.
“Then, one day I sat with my colleague, Dr. Sinclair, and I said, “I’m beginning to think that I can’t fix anything!” And he said to me, “Kathryn, anyone who has ever made a difference in this world doesn’t set out to change the world. They set out in the love of God, longing to share that love with others.”
She says it was then that she realized she better learn how to float because God alone will bring forth peace and “it will be greater than we could imagine or achieve on our own.”
But she warned, her words are not a call for inaction—rather a reminder for all to listen to God and be ready to act.
“Floating is not an excuse to be apathetic or indifferent to the suffering and the pain around us. We cannot go about our daily tasks, like the Samaritan woman at the well, surprised when Christ asks us for a drink or recounts all of our sins….we cannot ignore when Christ calls us, sends us, equips us and allows us to be a part of God’s work in the world.”
“As John’s gospel proclaims, “It is out of the believer’s heart that there shall flow rivers of living water.” So, come and float with me, says the Lord,” she said. “Let go, be still, put your hope and trust in me for I am your mighty refuge and your strength a well-proven help in times of trouble.”