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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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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.

As Reformed people we don’t have a theology of perfection. It is probably because we have met so many other Reformed people. But I want to suggest we consider a theology of preciousness—a theology that honors God’s love for all of God’s children.

Now maybe you think preciousness is a word for grandchildren. However I think we need to incorporate it in the storyline in our head about all people. So we see the tired clerk at the convenience store as precious, the grumpy nurse as precious, the bad driver as precious, and other people’s children as precious. If we wait to find the perfect person to bestow the title of precious, we will never ever change that tape in our head.

It is that tape that must be changed. It is that tape that must develop a new song about God’s sons and daughters. It is that tape that must be reprogrammed to not prejudge one of God’s children because of the color of their skin. I owe it to the moms of color in my neighborhood to try to build a world where they can be certain their sons will come home.

Read this post in Spanish.

Tags: anxiety, gradye parsons, monthly column, preciousness, school, stated clerk


August 4, 2014

August 2014 - YEA as a liturgical response

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 ...

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July 1, 2014

July 2014 - Tangled

[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.

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June 2, 2014

June 2014 - Welcome to the conversation

Welcome to the 221st conversation as a whole church gathered as commissioners this time in Detroit, Mich. This conversation has some legs on it. It began in 1706 when a few folk got together to form the first presbytery. It picked up some energy when the newly formed General Assembly met for the first time in 1789.

This conversation has been heated at times. It has been full of passion and sincere disagreements. This conversation also launched a fifty-state church that also spread the Gospel around the world. It started schools, colleges, hospitals, and community centers.

The conversation reached outside ...

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May 1, 2014

May 2014 - Bread for the Ages

We were anxiously watching the chunks of bread disappear from the silver plate. Good weather and the Holy Spirit had brought a very large crowd to Easter Sunday. The young woman serving the bread repeated the phrase “Bread of Heaven” as her family, neighbors, church brothers and sisters walked solemnly up the aisle. I have known her since she was a little girl and watched her family and the church nurture her into a beautiful, young Christian woman. In her young hands was the Easter bread representing 2,000 years of witness and remembrance.

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