December 23, 2009

Council Blues

2009 1536 6 capESS THAN TWO MONTHS AGO I PARTICIPATED IN MY FIRST ANNUAL Council at the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A. It was a busy time with lots of meetings, plenty of discussion, and many important initiatives and decisions. I was overjoyed to see a number of familiar faces from places all around the globe where we had lived and served, and wished for more time to spend with old friends. I was delighted to meet new brothers and sisters, leaders from all around the world, and make new friends.
As our ministry at the Adventist World and Adventist Review magazines is on a tight production schedule, I had to juggle the regular workload with many extra meetings and numerous interactions with world leaders. Needless to say, I felt exhausted at the end of the five-day “meetingathon.”
2009 1536 6As I sat in my chair in the auditorium of the General Conference building, wrestled with the heavy folder including all the supporting documents, and listened to the procedures, I realized that I had a bit of a council blues attack. While I (mostly) believe in the collective wisdom of committees, I am not a fan of committee meetings. My wife and my friends can attest to this well-known fact. But this sense of council blues went deeper and had nothing to do with the actual Annual Council.
Looking around me and the tremendous challenges that we humans face on this planet, I wonder how much longer we need to meet in annual councils and GC sessions until we can hear the voice of the Master telling us “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21)? I am tired of sin and death and emergency responses to another major catastrophe hitting millions of people. I am tired of waiting and eager to get home.
Suddenly it hit me. Can you imagine the longing of people such as Simeon and Anna and the countless others waiting for the promised Messiah? They had studied the prophecies. They knew their Scriptures. They wanted to see the Desire of all Ages—and when He arrived, most were not ready. A peasant baby in a food trough, wrapped in some clothes of dubious origins. This did not fit their expectations.
I wish I could have listened to the angels’ choir somewhere in the fields around Bethlehem. They sang. They shouted for joy. They were overwhelmed . . . then they began to grasp a bit of the enormity of God’s love for His creatures—including themselves—and just could not keep quiet.

As you sit down to read the Christmas story today, catch the excitement of the moment. This is the best antidote for council blues and waiting sores. “When the fullness of the time had come” (Gal. 4:4, NKJV)* God came through, and He will do so again when it is time for His children to finally go home. No more council blues there. No more suffering and waiting. No more policy discussions. We can sit together at the feet of Jesus and enjoy uninterrupted time with our Creator and Redeemer. This is such good news that I don’t want to keep it under wraps. 
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was printed December 24, 2009.