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.
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.
In the Book of Joshua, chapter four, we have the story of the crossing of the Jordan. Joshua instructs one man from each tribe to take up a stone from the river. The stones are to serve as memory keepers so that when their children ask “What do these stones mean to you?” you will say… .
Part of the good work of a congregation is to answer these questions. What does God mean to you? What does Christ mean to you? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to say Bread of Heaven? These questions are answered before eager eyes and ears that are watching for the correlation between word and witness.
The Gospel of John says in the beginning was the Word and that Word was God. Later it says that Word became flesh and lived among us. The Word and the questions and the witness in the flesh are the sum of a congregational life well-lived. It is a life that translates by its actions that it remembers in gratitude what God has done in Jesus Christ and lives that life out of joyful grace toward others. In that joy-filled grace lives young and old encounter the Bread of Heaven that has nourished the church through the ages.
Word, questions, and witness. These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Come, all is ready again.