The most important parts of Christian faith can be summarized by the cross and the resurrection, said the Rev. Michael Lindvall at the closing worship of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators’ annual event.
The cross and the resurrection declare two things, said Lindvall, who had been leading plenary sessions at the event, Jan. 27-30.
In the cross, God declares that there is no pain we will bear that God has not already borne. When we come to pain, we can know that God has passed through it for us.
In the resurrection of Jesus, we see that the world doesn’t have the last word. The last word is life, not death, pain or fear.
“God really does change lives,” Lindvall said, adding that even if this change happens after lots of time or backsliding, it really does happen.
In her sermon, “Singing Hallelujah,” the Rev. Carla Pratt Keyes said that praising God is what we were made to do.
“Our souls are most awake in the act of rendering God glory,” she said.
When we cry out in pain, we can find comfort in the Psalms, which are full of lament and give voice to our questions, like ‘If God is just, why is there so much pain?’
“If we don’t have questions, then we simply aren’t paying attention,” Keyes said.
But along with the questions and sorrow, most of the Psalms end with praise. Although the Psalms speak urgently and can be angry or abrasive, the Psalms then turn their voices to praise, Keyes said.
In this, we learn that we can be intimate with God and address God. God is worthy of trust, even if things don’t turn out the way the psalmists want.
“It’s a blessing simply to have God near,” Keyes said, adding that we were created to be intimate with God.
John Calvin said that human beings are unique in that we have the capacity to turn to God, Keyes said. We have the capacity to consciously praise God.
When we help others and spread love and justice, we are doing what we were created to do — rendering praise to God, Keyes said.