Reflections on a Year of a Lifetime
A message to the Presbytery of San Jose from 2020 Moderator, Elder Frank Bernstein
Thanksgiving is well-timed in our Presbytery calendar, coming after our last meeting of the year, and offering time to reflect on things for which we are grateful.
I am grateful for the unexpected honor and the opportunity to serve as moderator this year. As the year started, I had in mind the theme of inclusion. None of us could have anticipated how relevant and timely that theme would be as we experienced so much racial strife all over our country. I am proud of our presbyters and minister members as they have pressed for equality and inclusion both locally and nationally.
I am grateful for the conduct of our faithful presbyters and minister members during a summer which was contentious in more ways than one. I am proud that, despite the strength of disagreement which led to a long and spirited Presbytery meeting, we treated each other with respect. One of the things I took from that meeting is that, while we may disagree strongly with each other on a particular issue, we need to keep sight of our agreement on other issues.
I am grateful for God’s sense of timing, and for the influence of the Holy Spirit. As the political campaign cycle progressed, the vehemence and violence of the vituperation that people were hurling at each other motivated me to do an internet search using the terms “golden rule” and “PC(USA)”. I found a Web site, https://goldenrule2020.org, a program of the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) (https://nicd.arizona.edu). Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of our denomination’s Office of Public Witness, was intimately involved in getting the Golden Rule 2020 program started. I commend the Golden Rule website to you.
I am grateful for the privilege of listening to a life-changing webinar, entitled Faith, Compassion, and Healing Our National Divides, which NICD presented. God’s sense of timing again: The webinar occurred on Friday, November 20, the day before our last Presbytery meeting. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church and Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention were the panelists. Here is a link to the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFrocuFKByM&feature=youtu.be. I urge all of you to watch it. The message to speak and listen compassionately could not have been more germane. The need to take people as they come, rather than lumping them into groups that we then deride, was at the heart of the message I took from the gospel readings I selected for our Presbytery readings.
Finally, I am grateful for all of you, my colleagues in ministry. Your spirit and your faithfulness inspire me and help me through this pandemic. Thank you.
Covenant Presbyterian Church