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Images of Synod: Larry Walter reflects on General Synod 34

A few images come to mind as I think about the recent Synod of the United Church of Christ.

One is of a mirrored sphere that is most often seen in party-venues where beams of different colored light are bounced off its countless tiny mirrors. The room is suddenly filled with moving, vibrant colors! The vibrant beams of light brought into the Synod by over 2000 attendees bounced off the multi-faceted sphere that is the core of the UCC and filled the gathering place with diverse, engaging, stimulating light. Each beam had its place and unique identity, and each added to the brilliance of how the UCC is seen moving and spinning through the vastness of creation and seeking to listen to the God who is still speaking.

Another image is of a statue that stands in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. “The Silent Cry” is an outdoor sculpture by Leah Michelson. It depicts the weeping form of a faceless woman who stands upon the rubble of the Holocaust. Her hands embrace her shrouded, bowed head. There were moments throughout the Synod that had the power to quiet us in silent cries as we were reminded that we stand on the rubble produced by the horrors of our own day and our souls wept.

For me, the Synod experience takes expression in the words and form of a familiar hymn. In its brief petitions it speaks to the witness and task of the United Church of Christ in these days.

Open our eyes, that we may see, Glimpses of truth Thou hast for us;

Place in our hands the wonderful key, That shall unclasp and set all your people free.

In the local and wider ministry of the church, as we approach the Still Speaking God, may we see, really see, the truth of the Divine written in the heavens and on the sidewalks. May we receive the keys to the kingdom that will set God’s people free and turn those keys in the locks of the prisons of body, mind and spirit, we have made.

Open our ears, that we may hear, Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;

And while the wave notes fall on our ears, Everything false will disappear.

We can no longer turn a deaf ear to the silent cries that proclaim truth, the false must disappear. This is the prophetic mission of the UCC in our day. Let those who have ears hear.

There was much talk, even some debate, about how the UCC, and especially the local church, might carry on its mission. In truth, the grandiose pronouncements and proclamations and affirmed resolutions all boil down to what, if anything, a local church opts to do in its own unique witness and mission. The agencies of the UCC were given direction and have been tasked with implementing the actions of the Synod. The overall theme of the Synod was “making all things new …” Now, may the Spirit of the Most Holy One be seen in the work of the UCC.

And, the final petition:

Open our mouths, and let us bear, Gladly the warm truth everywhere;

Open our hearts and let us prepare, Love with Thy children thus to share.

Is this not the work of the church?

Can we not affirm:

O Divine, Most Holy One…

Silently now we wait for Thee, Ready our God, Thy will to see,

Open our eyes, illumine us, Spirit divine!


Rev. Larry Walter

Hawaii Island Association


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