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.
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. While I love saying the affirmative amen at points in the service, it is not the same as telling God YEA. Yes God I love singing about you. Yes God I love hearing stories about your love. Yes God please heal my friend and yes God thank you for creating these people. I think the word YEA should be part of the revised Directory for Worship.
WOW as an affirmation of God’s world. Ants are wow. Jets are wow. Things you can touch are wow. Things you should not touch, double wow. If you want to rediscover what happened in Genesis walk a block or two with a toddler. The beauty of earth is simplified and expanded. A bird does not just sing and fly but has potential for relationship. The whole created order may be groaning for reconciliation according to Paul. But it grins a little when it gets to introduce itself to a child.
UT-OH as a confession. The discovery of gravity can be a challenge for any of us. The created order has some rules of its own. If you drop food off your plate it falls. If you are successful getting your shoes off it means it will take longer to get out the car seat. There are consequences. UT-OH acknowledges gravity and mischief. We do call it the fall don’t we. It also means that there is always a teachable moment. Parent to child. God to us all.
[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.
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 ...
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.
Question 129 from the Heidelberg Catechism (revised version) says the little word “Amen” means: “This shall truly and surely be! It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer than that I really desire what I pray for.”
The image this brings to me is of a patient parent listening to a child who is asking for something that is exactly not what the child needs. Listening is a spiritual gift. Most of us hear but fewer of us actually listen.