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La 223a Asamblea General de este verano será mi número 41. Mi primera fue en Portland, Oregón en 1967, cuando era estudiante universitario y presbiteriano de cuna, quería ver de primera mano el debate sobre la Confesión de 1967. Desde entonces, me he perdido muy pocas asambleas generales. Sí, soy un «adicto a la AG».
This summer’s 223rd General Assembly will be my 41st. My first was in Portland, Oregon, in 1967 when, as a college student and cradle Presbyterian, I wanted to see firsthand the debate on the Confession of 1967. Since then, I have missed very few General Assemblies. Yes, I am a “GA junkie.”
In 2016, when I was 12 years old, I read an article about a boy half my age named King Carter who was gunned down less than a mile from my home in Miami Shores. King was walking to a convenience store to buy candy when he was killed in the crossfire between two drug-dealing gangs. After reading about his tragic story, I didn’t understand why he had to die.
If the apostle Paul had to cite an example of his words spoken to the Romans — “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans” — all he would have to do was point to St. Louis on a map.
Children and teens swarmed around First United Presbyterian’s churchyard, their laughter and chatter almost as loud as the buzzing of the summer mosquitoes that swarmed along with them. Poles were scattered on the grass, as were piles of shapeless pieces of neon orange nylon, black tarp and Army green canvas.
What time do Korean churches gather to have morning prayer? Five o’clock in the morning? How could you possibly pray that early? It’s an ungodly hour of the day! This is the common response I get from non-Koreans asking about the prayer life in Korean churches.
The Ascension of the Lord has never been an important event on the Presbyterian church calendar. But perhaps it should be, as there are things we can learn from it.
The story of Jesus ascending into heaven after appearing to his followers in the 40 days after his resurrection does come with two significant challenges. First, as a rule, people do not simply float away into the sky. Just think of the nightmare that would pose for the Transportation Security Administration. Secondly, the story presents a picture of the universe we know not to be true. “Heaven” is not “up” and “hell” is not “down” and we do not live in “the middle.” So a literal reading of the story is not going to be helpful.
Representatives from four Columbia River Indian tribes in Oregon — Nez Perce, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation — invited more than two dozen Presbyterians this past fall to participate in a fire and water ceremony.
Not too long ago our presbytery meeting was held at a cathedral-like church with thick stone, intricate stained glass and a grand, high pulpit. As I climbed the steps to the pulpit, I swear the air got thinner. When I got to the top and behind the mic, I felt like I was commanding a starship. There was a smooth wooden shelf encircling the area, like an expansive console surrounding me, but without flashing computer screens. I felt like I could pilot the church straight to heaven. As I looked down upon my colleagues something inside me felt strange. Then I realized what it was. I had pulpit envy.
Next to the entrance of Lucy Janjigian’s apartment is a drawing that her granddaughter made. It depicts Janjigian, her granddaughter and the words “My grandmother helps orphans in Armenia. She inspires me to help other people.” Her granddaughter has pigtails. Janjigian has a superhero cape. In real life, Janjigian is a bit of a superhero.