“The good news of the gospel is that it calls us to a ministry of meddlin,’” said Margaret Aymer as she began her sermon during Presbyterian Women’s Churchwide Gathering July 12.
During the plenary session themed “Wonder of Community,” Aymer reinterpreted the Southern expression, “Preacher, you’ve left off preachin’ and taken to meddlin’” in the context of Mark 2:1–12.
Aymer is a faculty member of Johson C. Smith Theological Seminary, the PC(USA)’s only historically African American seminary, which is also a member of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. She will author the 2011–12 Horizons Bible study on the Beatitudes.
Her message explored the call of the Christian community, specifically of Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian clergy women gathered, to re-envision themselves as meddlers.
Aymer asserted that faithful Christians break barriers, like the story of the four friends in Mark who carried a paralyzed man to Jesus, breaking through the roof of a home to lower the man through a ceiling so he could have access to Jesus.
“If we are honest, at the heart of many of our conflicts is the question of access,” she said. “Access to water resources, to food and shelter and adequate medical care, to energy, to human rights, to appropriate education or to a place to call home.
“Would we (climb) to the top of the Captiol building and break through the great white dome on behalf of those who cannot carry themselves through the door — the undocumented, the unseen and the unheard?” Aymer asked.
Listeners repsonded with cheers and a chorus of “Yes!” and “Amen!”
Aymer empahsized that as meddlers, we don't need to participate in what she describes as a purification ritual — knowing the details of others’ sickness, disease, alcoholism or experience in poverty in order to decide if someone is worthy of having basic needs met.
“We do not get the luxury to decide who should and should not be able to afford healthcare,” she said. “To follow Jesus, we must . . . be the community that, in Jesus’ name, takes to meddling in the world’s affairs.”
The theme of community was emphasized in other portions of the service. Prayers focused on healing divisions and bringing about unity — and uplifted the ways in which Presbyterian Women has taken to “meddling in the world’s affairs,” highlighting the gift card donations PW has coordinated.
The gift card donation program started in 2006 with a campaign for gift cards to hardware, grocery and department stores to benefit post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.
Shirley Nichols and Kathy Randall dedicated the offering of “wonder-filled” gift cards, which will be given to Bellewood Presbyterian Homes for Children and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Randall reported that 2009 Gathering attendees have given more than $58,000 in gift cards to support these two ministries, and by the end of the day, that total had climbed to more than $60,000 with totaling still not complete.
To read more stories from the 2009 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, including one about the recent vote to approve incorporation, visit the Gathering Web site.
Beth Newberry is an associate for mission communications in the ministry area of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women.