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Stated Clerk's Column

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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.

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January 1, 2015

January 2015 - Tear down walls by building relationships, advocating for justice, and listening

If you ever watch any show on HGTV you know that every remodeling project will involve a wall coming down. The homeowner usually takes a few swings with a sledgehammer for show, and then the pros take over. The reasons these walls come down vary. Usually it is about creating greater flow, or better entertainment, or a more spacious feel. Whatever the reason, it is the opposite reason of what a wall does.

Tracy Kidder wrote a book titled House. It followed the construction of a house from acorn to last nail. He states that walls define a room's purpose. I have often thought about that when I am faced with walls that attempt to define people.

There at least two walls that are trying to define who we are. One is the United States-Mexico border fence and the immigration policies that wall supports. Boundaries are only one way you define a country. The values of a country and the way it values human beings are of even more importance. Locking up and deporting people who are fleeing for their lives seems out of accord with our values as a nation of refugees. The other wall that is just as real and overlaps the first is race. Some of us can't see it, and some of us can't stop seeing it. But it is there none the less. It is a wall that defines people and prevents us from living together as equally precious children of God.

The president has officially broken down some of the walls that existed between the United States of America and Cuba. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been working on that for more than 50 years. We have done that by building relationships, advocating for justice, and listening. Those tools are better at breaking down a wall than any sledgehammer. Those are the same tools we need to use to tear down the other walls.

The disciples tried to create an impromptu gated community in their hideout room after Jesus’ crucifixion. John 20:19 says, “...and the doors of the houses where the disciples had met were locked because of fear ... Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” Sisters and brothers, let’s tear down these walls. And the peace of Christ that passeth all understanding and walls be with us.

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Tags: cuba, gradye parsons, house, relationships, stated clerk, tracy kidder, walls

December 1, 2014

December 2014 - Link daily toil and holy quest in a deeper, earthier way this Advent

A barn with cattle and horses is the place to begin Christmas. After all, that’s where the original event happened, and that same smell was the first air that the Christ Child breathed.Paul Engle

It is probably fair to say that those candle shops that do a big business at Christmas don’t have candles that smell like barns. Before anyone goes on the offensive, I have been around enough barns to know that a farmer worth his or her salt keeps a clean barn. Engle does make the point that the rarified air of our elaborate nativity ...

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November 1, 2014

November 2014 - ‘No more of this’ should be church’s healing response

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.

Illustration by Randy Hobson

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 ...

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October 1, 2014

October 2014 - Reformed family called to ‘pray globally’ as it marks special days

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.

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September 1, 2014

September 2014 - A theology of preciousness

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.

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