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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell
Teresa Stricklen  

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April 16, 2014

Come and See

                A major theme running throughout the gospel of John is the invitation to “come and see.”  Echoing Isaiah 66:18b where God promises, “I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory,” John invites us to come and see the glory of the Lord in Jesus Christ. 

               When Jesus is baptized, John the Baptizer’s disciples wonder if Jesus is the one they’ve been waiting for—i.e. one greater than John.   They want to know where Jesus is staying/abiding, and he invites them to “come and see” (John 1:36-39).   

               When Philip tells Nathanael that in Jesus of Nazareth they’ve found the one Moses and the prophets talked about, Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  Philip tells him to “come and see” for himself (John 1:43-46). 

               Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well who grows in her understanding of who Jesus is as the conversation progresses.  After her conversation with him, she goes into the village to proclaim, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4:29).              

               After Jesus is associated with being the Messiah, the next “come and see” invitation significantly shifts: humanity asks Jesus to “come and see” where Lazarus lies dead (John 11:34).  And he does.  The Lord goes to Lazarus’ tomb and calls him forth from death into life.  Our Lord has come and seen what lies at the center of human fear, staring full-on at death and weeping with divine compassion at our plight.  He is with us in the midst of death’s trauma.  But he doesn’t just sit with us there in empathy.  As important as that is, it is not enough for the One who brings forth the new creation.  His word goes forth, and life emerges from death.  This is the work of God-with-us, Messiah.

               When the women report that Jesus’ tomb is empty after the crucifixion, the disciples go to see if the report is true (John 20:1-8).  It is as though they are following the bidding of the angel in Matthew who proclaims, “He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matt. 28:6).   

               Post-resurrection, the invitation to come and see becomes a summons to go and tell, as the risen Lord commands Mary (John 19).  When Christ later appears to Thomas who refuses to believe the resurrection is true, we hear a variation of the “come and see” motif when Jesus says,  “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:19-29).   Thomas’ declaration of faith here, his testimony, is what the church goes on to proclaim to those who cannot see for themselves:  Jesus is “my Lord and my God!”  (John 20:28).  This is immediately followed by the declaration:

               Now Jesus did many others signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come [emphasis mine] to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

          The church now goes to tell the good news of the gospel, which is later written down in scripture, continuing to issue the invitation to others to come and see for themselves where the living Lord Jesus Christ dwells among us in divine glory.  A large part of that testimony is what makes Holy Week so special in a death-dealing culture: God dwells with us in the most abject of human circumstances, namely, death by torture on a cross, to call forth life out of death.  What makes our proclamation so powerful is our unabashed acknowledgment of world-shattering trauma.  The trauma of the cross stands  at the center of the gospel to remind us that in Christ Jesus, death does not have the last word on how things really are, as heinous and as real as that is.  In Jesus the Christ, God-with-us to the bitter dregs of existence, what abides, despite the worst that death can do, is the resurrection power of God’s steadfast love that endures forever.    

Altar art, cross grotto, Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem

Tags: come, come and see, cross, go, resurrection, see, tell


March 6, 2014

Back to Basics on Ash Wednesday

In the congregation where I worship, I have the solemn joy of visiting each class of children’s choirs and talking to them about Ash Wednesday. Last night was the third year running … which means we’ve now entered the realm of sacred and inviolable tradition.

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January 7, 2014

Inviting Folks to the Font: “How Much Does It Cost?”

How much does baptism in Christ cost?  Nothing.  And everything.

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November 25, 2013

Thoughts on Gratefulness

‘Tis the season for gratitude.  I see Facebook friends listing things for which they are grateful, and I feel a tug of guilt.  I should be grateful for all the gifts God gives to me.  When leading worship, I “introduce” the time of offering by reminding folks that all we are, all we have, all we will ever be comes to us only as a gift from God.  So why don’t I spend the month telling the world the things for which I am grateful?  Don’t I want to be a person full of gratitude, perceived as truly ...

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November 21, 2013

Global Institute of Theology

The World Communion of Reformed Churches will sponsor a Global Institute of Theology, July 5-28, 2014 in Costa Rica.

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