Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Robert Lowry’s words seemed quite apt as the commissioners and delegates gathered along with staff members of the six agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and visitors for the closing worship of the 220th General Assembly (2012) today. For over a week, this group had met inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center along the Allegheny River. Adventurous participants and observers, unafraid to go into the heat and humidity, made short walks to see the Monongahela and its confluence with the Allegheny where the Ohio flows to life.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
I stood and sang the words. And with that amazing power that allows music to transcend time and place, I suddenly found myself standing beside Ward Bond as an extra in one of John Ford‘s films. It felt a tad irreverent. But as does a river, music flows – and it flows where it flows – and we are swept along to times past, to times present, to times yet to come. We are swept along to places profane, to places profound, to places beyond our imagining.
See you along the Trail.