Yesterday, after meeting for worship, my church held its monthly meeting for business. Technically, this is referred to as meeting for worship with attention to business, or some similar phrase, the grammatical intent being to place worship at the center, as the main purpose for gathering. Ideally, all business then happens in a spirit of worship, such that the comments offered on the budget and other business items are held before God with the same gravity as messages given at morning worship.
Yesterday, meeting for business was awful.
A report was brought to business meeting. The report contained a minute, the substance of which was important but not particularly controversial. Meeting was asked to consider adpoting the minute. This is all standard practice.
The report contained some serious errors, though. It was nothing that couldn’t have been adjusted, but everything slid clean off the rails. Friends rather spectacularly failed to listen worshipfully to the concerns of other friends. They even interrupted other friends, arguing points rather than praying for direction. The clerk’s attempts to guide the conversation were ignored. It was a horrid mess, as if they didn’t even know what meeting for business was supposed to be like. The whole thing made me so mad!
Dammit, I’m right about all that. But I’m also one of those friends who failed to listen worshipfully. I sat back, silently criticizing friends rather than participating in the process. When I did add my voice, it wasn’t because I had been adding my prayers; consequently, I spoke wrathfully rather than following my Guide.
Worse yet, I went home and continued to rehash exactly why everyone else in the meeting had failed. I rehashed it to Partner, and even more so to myself. It is amazing, you know, how smart and holy I sound when arguing with strawpeople.
So, I guess that means that I don’t know what meeting for business is like, either. You wouldn’t know that Christ is my Teacher from the scholarship I displayed.
The most important business of meeting for business is to love God with everything that the meeting has, and the second most important agenda item is to love our neighbors as ourselves. How is that so hard to remember?