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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.

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April 1, 2015

April 2015 - The big great surprise

Well it seemed impossible even on March 22nd, but it does appear that Spring may arrive after all. Back in Tennessee we could still have a succession of mini-winters, but we soften the blow by giving them names like redbud winter or blackberry winter. In South Carolina, my son-in-law has already mowed his yard. In Chicago they still have their snow shovels working. We are in the same season but not in the same way.

This could be an apt metaphor for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We are in the same season of our church life but not in the same way. Some people are very happy, some are not, and some are otherwise occupied. It would be amnesia of history to say we have always had disagreements and yet stayed together. I shudder to think what our historic arguments would have looked like if modern social media had been available.

So I will not appeal to history. I will not appeal to the various letters of Paul to divided congregations. I am going to cling to Easter, and here is why. There is no sense from the Gospels that the disciples were one hundred percent convinced that Jesus would pull off the resurrection. The stories read just the opposite. And while Thomas is singled out for his doubts, he was at least brave enough to walk in the streets when the rest were hiding out. They all doubted because the facts in front of them were hard.

But they were wrong. Jesus, like a teacher that won't give up, returns to his students for another lesson. The disciples become transformed not because of what they knew but because of who knew them. Easter is the big great surprise that claims all of our joys and doubts. That claim binds us all to God. And since we are all being held by the same Godly hand, shouldn't we try to hold each other’s?

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Tags: doubts, easter, gradye parsons, monthly column, seasons, spring, stated clerk