Every three years the Presbyterian Women of the Synod of the Northeast-New England, New York, and New Jersey- gather on a weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday noon. The women engage in corporal worship and increase their awareness of real ways to bring about justice and peace among, between, and for all people. The event is called a Triennial Gathering. Each Triennial has a biblical theme designed to highlight specific ways women can work to effect the theme as delineated in Scripture.
The 2014 Gathering
This year the women gathered at the Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center in upstate New York to explore the theme, “Grace Abounds”. There were three plenary sessions-one on Friday evening, another on Saturday morning, and a third Saturday evening. The plenary speakers each had very different elucidations about the theme. One speaker focused on the practical application of abounding grace through authentic inclusion and repentance. Another focused on discussing and illustrating one model for manifesting God’s grace by helping others help themselves. A third speaker highlighted the grace that abounds in all of creation, including through the expression of human creativity.
Saturday afternoon women chose to attend workshops that showed ways to be agents of God’s abounding grace or ways in which God’s grace abounds in the world today. One workshop highlighted the fact that cultural norms sometimes make it difficult to recognize grace because those norms are often antithetical to the affirming and humble nature of grace. Another workshop focused on the very real need to eradicate human trafficking. One of the most encouraging aspects of that workshop was the knowledge that there are specific things individuals, grassroots groups, corporations, and governments can do to stop the horrific crime of human trafficking-for both sex and other kinds of labor.
God’s amazing grace is the candle that shines in the darkness of the world. In the midst of the most deplorable conditions God’s amazing grace is manifested in myriad ways. It is shown by small acts of kindness such as forgiving real or perceived wrongs. God’s amazing grace encourages the disheartened and soothes the brokenhearted. God’s grace empowers battered-men, women, and children- to stand after repeated beat downs and to move forward with hope, joy, and thanksgiving.
God’s grace abounds in the diversity of thought, skill, and passion of caring people united to eradicate injustice and to improve the quality of life for all people. God’s grace abounds among those able to recognize, appreciate, and enjoy cultural and ethnic differences. God’s grace abounds in the legacies of the ancestors- in every place during every time- who sacrificed their precious time, material wealth, personal and professional reputations, and their very lives for the sake of others.
God’s grace abounds when our own faults are revealed. God’s grace abounds when we realize that salvation is the first step in becoming a disciple of Christ. God’s grace abounds when we enter our houses of worship to worship and exit to serve. God’s grace abounds when we realize Scripture is written to and for our benefit and edification. God’s Grace abounds when God awakens us with our minds on Him with a burning desire to fellowship with Him. God’s grace abounds in the realization that God loves us and wants to fellowship with us.
God’s grace abounds in deliverance from risky behaviors. His grace abounds in second chances and new beginnings. God’s grace abounds in the freedom to repent. God’s grace abounds in the beauty, power, and diversity of nature. God’s grace abounds when children are nurtured and loved. God’s abundant grace is everywhere present s in the world today.
Thank you for your abounding amazing grace! Help us to recognize, acknowledge, and cherish it.