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Comings and Goings

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About this blog

Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings. 

You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).

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November 25, 2015

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!"

Thoughts on Thanksgiving from Louisville, KY

I often call Psalm 136 “God’s Greatest Hits.”  The psalmist begins at creation and recites all the ways that God has blessed Israel, moving through the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, and the move into the Promised Land.  The heartbeat of the psalm is the response, coming after each and every line, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”  The first three verses (Psalm 136:1-3, NRSV) establish the pattern that goes on to the end:


Psalm 136 Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is goodO give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

      For his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of gods,

      For his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords,

      For his steadfast love endures forever. 


During this season, I have been thinking about ways that I see God’s steadfast love enduring forever, particularly in the face of crises in Syria, racial violence in the US, and the persistent sense that the world is not the way that God wants it to be.


I am grateful for Christians and churches which cry out for justice in the face of police brutality against people of color.  As I write this, the video of a Chicago officer shooting Laquan McDonald has just been made public, though the incident happened more than a year ago.  Clearly the vast majority of police officers seek to do what’s best and to protect people of all backgrounds.  Yet the frequency of these tragedies means it is critical to fight for justice as well.   For most of my life I have been a part of churches which are slow to advocate for justice, so I am often hesitant to comment.  I’m grateful that my twitter feed and facebook timeline are filled with the perspectives of other Christians who are not reticent. 


I give thanks to the Lord who speaks words of peace and justice,

      For his steadfast love endures forever.


I am grateful that working for peace in Syria and Iraq and the rest of the Middle East is not solely up to humanity.  The problem seems so intractable, with no good solutions.  We Christians are called to work for reconciliation, from our own corner of the world, even on big problems like this.  It seems impossible.  And yet the God who gives us this ministry of reconciliation is already working for reconciliation in front of us, and beside us, and behind us.  2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that God reconciled the world through Jesus Christ, and then gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  We have our part, but the reconciliation of the world is not up to us.  God is way ahead of us on that piece!


I give thanks to the Lord who makes a way where there seems to be no way,

      For his steadfast love endures forever.


Of course, the Middle East and racialized violence are not the only evidence that the world is not the way that God wants it to be.  It has been a devastating six months for people I love:  a young adult suicide, divorce, a teen’s accidental death, cancer diagnoses, a young mother passing, job losses, mental illness, etc., etc.  Still, my small circle is virtually untouched by hunger, subpar education, and homelessness.  A quick glance at your favorite news site reflects so much despair in our fallen world. 


When things seem hopeless, we can live into our Advent yearnings for Christ to return and make everything right.  One day all the tears will fall away and death will be no more (Revelation 21:4).  One day Jesus will reign forever and ever (Rev 11:15).  One day the “not yet” will become the “already.”  On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks that the world will one day fully reflect the Kingdom of Heaven.


I give thanks to the Lord who will come again to reign in glory,

      For his steadfast love endures forever.


Tags: psalm 136, thanksgiving

November 16, 2015

Our Challenging Way

I gave a presentation  to a group who have been spending six weeks covering issues of sexual integrity, in particular in respect to the LGBT community.  They invited me  to talk about gay marriage and ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  It gave me a chance to revisit an important paper that two of my colleagues, Charles Wiley and Barry Ensign-George, wrote after the denomination changed its standards on marriage from “a man and a woman” to “a couple, traditionally a man and a woman.”  People often think about the PC(USA) as an affirming denomination in terms of LBGT issues. But our position is actually more complicated than that.

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November 6, 2015

Why God Cares about Diversity

In my most recent blog post I quoted a piece written by my colleague Barry Ensign-George.  As promised, I am now posting it in its entirety.  I find it very inspiring about why God cares about diversity, and very helpful in its drawing this theological claim to workplace policies which are not always understood to be theological in nature.

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November 4, 2015

Theological Education and The Past, Present, and Future

The most thought-provoking part of the charge given to Columbia Seminary's new president Leanne Van Dyk was from a student who said that the seminary and theological education have to take into account the past (things like the historical faith and creeds), the present (the needs of the church and world today) and the future (how is God leading us to join the divine mission in the years to come?).  I couldn't stop thinking about it as I listened to a student lament during the panel on institutional racism later that day.

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October 19, 2015

What's your story?

Through Veronica Goines' sermon, the Holy Spirit has challenged me to think about the main narrative of my ministry life.  Especially in the past year, when my role at the Presbyterian Mission Agency has changed, and there is concern throughout the church expressed about the future of the agency, and financial issues confront us, I have quickly turned to lament, or complaint, or exhaustion when I’m asked about “how things are in Louisville.”  It seems to be the story that I tell, over and over again.  But does that make it the story most true?

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