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.
Recently I taught a Sunday school class where we discussed Hebrews 12:12-29. Since then, the first couple of verses have continued to dance in my head.
12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (NRSV)
Verses 12-13 serve as a sort of hinge section between the call to endure the trials we face and the in-breaking reality of the new kingdom “that cannot be shaken.” That space between enduring trials and arriving at a secure place is often a time marked by drooping hands and weak knees.
On September 18, the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) celebrated its 100th anniversary. We were there at its General Assembly with representatives from 33 other denominations to join in a very meaningful celebration.
As I reflect on the PCK in the light of the text from Hebrews, I think about how many times in Korea’s history the nation must have had drooping hands and weak knees. Years of outside domination, two World Wars, and the nation’s own internal conflicts challenged the Korean people with trial after trial. Yet here the church still stands. A hundred years strong and second only to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the number of missionaries it has sent out into the world.
The Korean church’s is not the only story like this. Many of our Reformed brothers and sisters around the world struggle to be faithful in difficult contexts while carrying out the dreams of Calvin and the other Reformers in their own unique cultures. Some are imprisoned when they speak out for justice. Others wrestle with the daily harassment of being a minority religion. Many support their congregations with incredible sacrificial giving.
These brothers and sisters are our family. Their story is our family story. When they hurt we hurt and when they succeed we succeed. Our drooping hands and weak knees may find hope and courage. Let us thank God for their witness to us as together we “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”