Reading time: two minutes.
Synodical Vice-President Rev. Nabil Nour was the living embodiment of Relational Wellness at our recent convention in Milwaukee. Two episodes of his time on the podium were great
illustrations of how the gospel of Jesus binds us together in the unity of the Spirit.
If you know Nabil, you know that he’s a native of the Middle East, born in Palestine, and that he recently retired from a long and fruitful pastoral ministry. You might even know how much fun it is to take an Old Testament course at the seminary and hear him read and translate Hebrew, his native tongue!
You’d also know that Nabil is a man of great Christian character… and a real character!The first way I saw Nabil exemplify Relational Wellness was in the ongoing mispronunciation of his last name, Nour. Throughout the convention, we heard him called, “Nower,” “Newer,” and “No-R” (although he’s certainly no relation to Lake Wobegone’s favorite detective, Guy Noir).
Nabil was finally asked, “What’s the correct pronunciation of your name?” and he replied, “It’s
really quite simple: Nour is like ‘Your’. Just say ‘Nour’.” When the speaker asked for Nabil’s forgiveness for the repeated fumbling of his name, Pastor Nour said, “I absolve you of all of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
I sensed that he was only half-way horsing around. It is so easy for us to offend and to be offended. Nabil embodied grace for us in his absolution.
The second circumstance was when, as VP, he took the podium to chair one of the sessions, a session in which many resolutions were presented in rapid succession. Tripping over the many overlapping amendments, calls for “the question,” and legislative maneuvering, the delegates shouted out once or twice, “Hey, wait a minute.”
Nabil responded with something like, “I seek your forgiveness and grace. The Chair has sinned. Please forgive me,” to which the assembly responded, “We forgive you!”
There was a resolution debated and passed that we as a church body should study the central article of the faith, the doctrine of justification. I’m all for that. I read Article IV of the Apology annually.
Here’s another idea. Instead of just studying justification by grace through faith, why don’t we learn to apply it. And live it.
Or as Pastor Nour invited us and reminded us, enjoy it.
Ephesians chapter 4 is the guiding scripture for our retreats. It opens in verse 2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” and it concludes in verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Thanks, Nabil, for the lesson in Relational Wellbeing.
And thank you for reading.