A Greeting of Gratitude


221st General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Detroit, Michigan
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton
Friday, June 20, 2014

Mr. Moderator, other members of the dais, commissioners, observers and guests, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  On behalf of the Ecumenical Advisory Delegates from North America and Canada, I come to say “thank you.”  Thanks for the invitation and radical hospitality.  Thanks for the honor and privilege of voice and vote coupled with advisory votes in General Plenary.  Double thanks for the privilege and responsibility of wrestling with simple and complex issues confronting our communions.  We experienced your joy.  And we felt your pain.  How blessed we are that there is a Balm in Gilead “to make the wounded whole-to heal the sin sick soul.” 

More than that, we have been doubled blessed.  Your invitation to be Ecumenical Advisory Delegates has given us an unexpected foretaste of Christian Unity.  Per the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:21ff; “it’s a sense of unity far beyond what we could “imagine or think.” For nine days, we have walked, talked and fellowshipped with people of diverse faiths.  Yes, theology, polity, ecclesiology, scripture, tradition, experience, reason, things liberal and things conservative divide us.  Yet, spending a few moments of time with each other has done its work.  Bonds of unity have been formed in listening and sharing, questions and answers, even more in the praying of prayers, the singing of songs, and the reading of scripture and the proclamation of the good news.

How could we not have been drawn closer to Presbyterians experientially?  You invited us to dinner.  You asked us to stay a while.  Legislatively speaking, you asked us to participate in washing dishes and cleaning besmirched (dirty) linen.  You dared to be transparent - dared to be vulnerable -dared to show your courage and faith - dared to show your hope in Jesus Christ.  Thanks be to God.

My son and daughter-in-law named our first grandchild Maliah Hope Keaton.  Since her birth, the concept of hope has been filled with new meaning.  Thus a word about hope ends this greeting of gratitude.  “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.   All other ground is sinking sand.”