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.
There is something about snow that binds together a neighborhood. I noticed on my street that the first driveway cleared was the house of the widow of one of our more colorful characters. She never touched a shovel. People helped each other push their cars out of icy ruts. As our streets became more narrow, folks did the dance of who went first with some grace. Without any discussion we agreed to only attempt the hill at the entrance one at a time.
“The Brief Statement of Faith” says this:
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
and binds us together with all believers
in the one body of Christ, the Church. (Book of Confessions, 10.4, Lines 54–57)
Being set free to love God and neighbor is no small work. It is a work built on the Spirit’s justifying us by grace through faith. The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus says one of the synonyms of justify is maintain, which means to keep in a state of repair. This definition speaks to me of the state of my repair and how it is kept going by the Spirit. It also binds me to my neighbor by not letting me claim my repairs are all done and theirs are incomplete. Or even more so to hope that their love for God supports my repair work in progress.
Snow puts all the homes in a neighborhood in the same state of repair. We might have different tools and various lengths of driveways and sidewalks. You might be a salter and I might be a sander. But we are bound in this common task, and a hot pad and aspirin for us all.
To know you are being kept in a state of repair by the Spirit is to bind yourself with all believers everywhere. We are not there yet. We are not there yet together. We are not there together yet as a Church. Thanks to the God who has come to us in Jesus Christ. May the repairs continue.