Yesterday Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), finished her nearly year-long battle with cancer and leaving this earthly life joined the Church Triumphant.
In the last 24 hours many fine tributes to Madam Moderator have been posted, and I will link to a few of those at the end. But each of us experienced her in our own way and here are a couple of my reflections.
I never met her in person but had the opportunity to watch her as she stood for Moderator in 2010 and then, as the successful candidate, as she presided over the meeting. What probably struck you first and stayed with you the longest was her sense of humor, and particularly her self-effacing nature. When the occasion called for it she could be very serious, but in my experience she never took herself too seriously. But the next thing that struck you about her was her graciousness. As she moderated the meeting she has a welcoming touch and a manner that honored the presence of those she was with.
Cindy was a vocal proponent, and model, for one of my favorite causes, the equal place of ruling elders in our church. She not only served as Moderator of the GA, but as co-moderator of the task force that drafted the New Form of Government. And she was in a position professionally to be able to balance her career and church service – something I must admit that I admired and envied.
I do wish that I had met her in person but I did get to know her in the virtual world. I counted it as an honor when I learned that she was a regular reader of this little idiosyncratic blog of mine, and I will admit that I was really taken aback when in one of her monthly columns this blog was among the handful she recommended for news about the PC(USA). We did interacted a couple of times in comments and messages.
There are a number of other tributes to her appearing on the web including the official release from the PC(USA), a personal family reflection from her nephew Mark, a nice piece from Bruce Reyes-Chow (Moderator of the preceding Assembly), and a good one from Mark Koenig.
From what I do know of Cindy she fits what is probably my favorite line about death
“I will not die of a cold. I will die from having lived.”
(From Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather; fill in your own “what you will not die of”)
But as Christians we live with the reality of death yet also with the hope of the resurrection
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling
place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” [Rev 21:1-4]