Photos by Bronwen Larson
A reflection on the Sabbath meeting
“Dave Larson and I wept unashamedly as we received communion together ministered from the front by Angel Rodriguez, Colin Standish and George Knight (if the significance of this teamwork eludes you ask either of us),” wrote Jon Paulien, Dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, to his faculty about Sabbath Morning, October 27. “I have long prayed to experience a day like this.”
Were our tears for the needless pain our church has suffered since the publication of Questions on Doctrines fifty years ago, or for the visible prospect that it is ending? Both!
“Look!” Jon had whispered. I then really saw what previously I had only looked at. Angel Rodriquez, Director of the General Conference Biblical Research Institute, was standing behind the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper. Collin Standish, the President of Hartland Institute who is an eloquent spokesperson for the school of Adventist thought that finds QOD objectionable, stood beside him to our right. George Knight, a retired historian of Adventism and prolific writer who is an equally persuasive advocate of much of QOD, despite the historical shortcomings that he has confirmed, was at his other side, to our left.
Never had I even imagined such a moment! “Quickly,” I whispered to Bronwen, my wife. “Take a picture before it is too late. People may not believe this.” The result is a little fuzzy, but maybe that, too, is significant. The blurriness of tears can make some things more clear. The Dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University asked Bronwen for a copy of her photograph. [see above] History has been made!
Earlier in the morning Michael Campbell welcomed us to worship and then dismissed us for the Ordinance of Humility, one place for men, another for women and yet another for couples. After washing each other’s feet as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples shortly before he was crucified, we returned to the Seminary Chapel for the Lord’s Supper.
We all stood as the bread was distributed, sitting only when we had received our portion. “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then again we all stood as the unfermented wine was distributed, once more sitting only as we received our cups. “Drink ye all of it. This is my blood which is shed for you.”
Then a congregational hymn:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;I’d rather be His than have riches untold;I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.
Than to be a king of a vast domainOr be held in sin’s dread sway,I’d rather have Jesus than anythingThis world affords today.
The Scripture was John 1: 1 – 3 and 14:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made…..And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten son of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Following the prayer by Ed Reynolds, Ron Knott and William Fagel thrilled us with a stirring duet:
I hear the Savior say,“Thy strength indeed is small;Child of weakness, watch and pray,Find in Me thine all in all.”Jesus paid it all,All to Him I owe;Sin had left a crimson stain,He washed it white as snow.
“You have been good,” Angel Rodriquez declared with a [relieved?] smile to those of us who had participated in the conference since Wednesday evening. His Homily was titled “Looking Back: Profiling the Future.” It invited us to mentally leave our “scholarly bags” in the foyer and, for a few moments at least, to worship the One about whom there had been so much scholarly discussion. “Be sure to pick them up again on your way out,” he implored, “because you must continue your work. But for now let us worship.”
Another congregational hymn:All to Jesus, I surrender;All to Him I freely give;I will ever love and trust Him,In His presence daily live.I surrender all, I surrender all,All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,I surrender all.
Speaking in both Spanish and English, Johnny Ramirez-Johnson articulated the thoughts and feelings of all in a passionate final prayer and benediction. Finally Julius Nam thanked the conferees for their participation, invited us to continue tearing down the walls that we have built between us and wished us God’s blessing.
The Spirit of Worship continued over lunch at the Wolverine Room of the Campus Cafeteria, albeit in a less formal and more convivial fashion. Like those who do not want to leave a good party even though it's time to go, we lingered, chatted, took pictures, more pictures and still more pictures.
The photograph that means the most to me features Julius Nam [R], Michael Campbell [L] and Jerry Moon. These three young men brought together -- for half a week -- people from all over the world with very different convictions about QOD, accomplishing something that no one else had been able to do in fifty years. The good results of this historic meeting are beyond calculation. God has only begun to make good use of their talents and dedication!
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4060