Greetings from the Moderator JANUARY 2023
I was honored to be elected your moderator for this year. We are all part of a wonderful presbytery of strong congregations and a strong sense of mission. As we celebrated the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, I did a lot of reflecting as I bet you did, on the coming of our Savior born a babe in Bethlehem and his coming again “in glory to judge both the living and the dead” as the Nicene Creed puts it.
Some of you know that I spent part of the last five years thinking about how we are accountable, not just at the last judgment, but every day, both to Christ and to each other to be together the community called into being by Christ and empowered by the Spirit to show the world what God’s love looks like. In the revision to the Rules of Discipline currently with the presbyteries for a vote on whether to change the current Rules to a revision called Church Discipline, the task force writing the revision flipped the first two paragraphs to begin with the theological understanding of why we hold each other accountable before God and to each other in the church. It says, ”The power that Jesus Christ has vested in his Church, a power manifested in the exercise of church discipline, is one for building up the body of Christ, not for destroying it, for redeeming, not for punishing. It should be exercised as a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath, so that the great ends of the Church may be achieved, that all children of God may be presented faultless in the day of Christ.”
Wow! Right? I have heard people say they are frustrated and disillusioned with the church, and I have known that feeling. But, when we see something we think is not right, we are not helpless. We have power given by Christ to be agents of Christ’s mercy and redemption. We are called to talk things out, to ask for help to settle differences, and if we cannot settle them informally and they seem to us to be serious differences either in a council of the church or in an individual’s behavior, we have a process for holding councils and individuals accountable, not to punish but to restore trust in our fellowship.
In these days, the culture we live in encourages us to choose up sides and work for our side to win. As Christ’s followers we are called to something else, the counter cultural notion that God’s community of love in the end overcomes all divisions and we are part of it now.
I wish you a New Year of hope, peace, joy and love in your daily walk and a year of learning and living into God’s future for us together as a presbytery