Voices From the Dome: Elí Diez-Prida
s at every General Conference session, I am enjoying two things in Atlanta: meeting people and reconnecting with brothers and sisters from around the world, as well as the great variety of professionally delivered music. They both are an important sign for me that what unites us as a world church (namely, the wonderful hope in the coming of Jesus and the gospel commission) is a lot more than what divides us (lifestyle issues, worship music, marginal theological questions).
In Atlanta I became aware of something else: we are good at talking, and excel in symbolic acts (such as ceremonies, projects, etc.). But do the words have far-reaching effects? Do they become action? Are the goals that we are setting just highlights—like a fireworks display— very impressive, but short-lived and quickly fading away? Are they a sign of an inner enthusiasm that will continue after we “have come down from the mount”?
Carlton Byrd’s sermon spoke to me tremendously. I will never forget his powerful image of “letting the oil flow” (hinting at the catastrophic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but actually pointing to the ministry of the Holy Spirit). However, what real-time consequences will be seen in our lives? What will be changed so that God’s Spirit can fill us completely?
I was also touched by Mark Finley’s words when he suggested (referring to the promises in Joel) that the Holy Spirit does not distinguish—age or gender do not matter. There was lots of applause at this point. And? Will there be changes? Will younger church members be elected into leadership positions? Will we recognize the spiritual gifts of our sisters in our church appropriately?
A last example: The journey of the Bible around the globe in time lapse on the stage on Thursday night in the dome was powerful. What happens now that the journey has come to an end? Will there be a change in our personal relationship to the Bible? Or will there be another great campaign that will move us short-term but will change our focus away from what we covenanted to do?
On the day following the end of the fifty-ninth General Conference session, people will enjoy fireworks all over the country. The Fourth of July is the national holiday of the U.S.A. People will be excited —for a moment. May the fire that the Holy Spirit has kindled in many hearts during these days never go out!
Eli Diez-Prida is the director of the German Publishing House Advent-Verlag Lueneburg.