Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
Sometime in November after this little column is posted the grand jury in St. Louis County will present its judgment of the Michael Brown shooting by Officer Darren Wilson. Unless King Solomon is the foreman of the jury it is hard to imagine that its’ decision will satisfy everyone. However, I think we might want to reflect on this moment of chaos and what it calls the church to be about.
We are studying the Belhar Confession as a possible addition to The Book of Confessions. This could not be a more Kairos moment. The confession calls us to a journey.
“It (the confession) places us on a road whose end we can neither foresee nor manipulate to our own desire. On this road we shall unavoidably suffer intense growing pains while we struggle to conquer alienation, bitterness, irreconciliation, and fear. We shall have to come to know and encounter ourselves and others in new ways.”
The Gospels contain multiple stories of Jesus encounter with people on the margins. You have to believe that the writers were not just picking random stories. Those stories were picked to show the listeners in the newly emerging church that this Good News does two radical things. First it accepts people as God created them and it breaks down the barriers caused by our own unacceptance of each other. We tend to want to do one or the other. We want to solve racism by pretending we don’t see race. But the real healing work is to see and love each other as beautiful children of God.
That is a journey with growing pains. The last healing miracle of Jesus is in Luke 22. It is the story of Jesus’ capture in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the disciples reacts and in defense of Jesus slices off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus says, “No more of this!” and heals the servant. May “no more of this” and healing be the church’s response. Amen
October contains World Communion Sunday, Reformation Sunday, and All Saints Day. While the Reformation is not just about the Reformed family of faith, I would like to share with you what some of our Reformed saints in the making are doing in the world.
School has started in our city. I watch the young people from our neighborhood trudge up the little hill to the front of the subdivision to catch their bus. Because it takes a while to figure out which bus is the right bus, the mothers are often seen standing in front of homes watching their children until the bus comes along. Then, one by one, they take their coffee mugs and head back into their houses.
I am even more aware that some of the moms still carry a great deal of anxiety about those children. The mothers of color have the extra burden that some unintended action by their sons may get them into trouble and possibly shot. They might not receive their sons back at the end of the day, but receive a phone call or a knock on the door with the message that no parent ever wants to receive.
In August there will be a major change in my family’s life. My daughter’s family will be moving from our home to her new call as the college chaplain at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. This means that my grandson Dylan, who has lived with us since his birth in March of 2013, will be leaving our daily life. I thought I would share some things he has taught me these past months.
YEA as a liturgical response. Dylan says a loud Yea to preludes, hymns, prayers of the people, sermons and the passing of the peace ...
[Korean] [Spanish] The late Maya Angelou showed real insight into people when she said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way(s) he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” Hopefully she never observed me in any of those situations.