He who began a good work

November 1, 2012

Louisville

3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3─6 [NRSV])

Wherever I travel, I wear the Moderator’s cross.

This enduring symbol of the unity and reconciliation that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) first witnessed in the union of its two northern predecessor churches with one another, and then, in 1983, the reunion of the so-called “northern church” (the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) with the so-called “southern church” (the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), to form what is today the PC(USA), serves as a visible marker of the power of the cross.

Presentation of the Moderator's cross at the 220th General Assembly (2012)

220th General Assembly (2012) —Photo by Michael Whitman

As it hangs on my neck and presses against my chest, I remember the 1.9 million sisters and brothers—such as yourselves—who serve faithfully. I thank my God, upon every remembrance of you, in my daily prayers. I recall the hundreds of people who lined up at the Pittsburgh Convention Center to shake my hand, who looked into my eyes and offered their prayers, and who shared their hopes for their struggling congregations and presbyteries. Time and again, I am asked what I will do. I remind folks that I can’t walk on water, but rather that my call as Moderator is to direct our attention to the One who has.

Recently, I was interviewed by a local newspaper in Dubuque, Iowa, about the state of the PC(USA) and my hopes. I said, “There is anxiety in some places as to what change means, there’s a waiting as to what God is doing, and there’s also a deep commitment to continue to serve Jesus Christ as faithfully as we are able, by God’s grace, even with diminished resources. I remain confident in this: we will be okay because God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit has reconciled us in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and will carry to completion the good work He has begun in us.”

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