Greetings from the Moderator JUNE 2023
As we move from the season of Easter to ordinary time, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be church together. The children in the Sunday school class I teach have been singing the song whose chorus goes “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we’re the church together”. One Sunday in May, I brought apples for snack and cut one with a knife. With each cut, I would ask how many apples there were, and they would patiently tell me that it was still one apple. Finally one scholar observed that I could dice it into a million pieces and it would still be one apple and we ate our apples.
God has called us all into one church together whatever our congregational or presbytery membership and in fact whether we are Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, one of the Catholic traditions, Pentecostal, non-denominational or whatever. All who follow Jesus are the church together. Sometimes that calls us to accept or at least tolerate the views and the needs of believers who are very different from our own and our congregation’s. When I am asked to preach somewhere, I always ask somebody about the customs of that congregation and I always say truthfully that I have learned that everybody does worship right and everybody does it differently.
Presbyterians are called to do things decently and in order and still we do things differently based on the needs of the culture and congregation of which we are part. Some of you, like me, have had the privilege of worship with a congregation whose language is different than our own. I hope that you have also had, as I have, the privilege of having someone translate for you so you don’t miss out. It is one of my favorite examples of Christian hospitality, to provide translation for a humble Anglo who has no Korean or Portuguese and very minimal Spanish. Sometimes, as is true at the June Presbytery meeting, it means that those of us who are guests accommodate the needs and practices of the host. In this case, it means wearing masks to protect the older Presbyterians among us and especially the Presbyterians of color from covid. Black and Latino people are far more likely than white people to contract covid. I don’t like wearing a mask for several hours, but I did it to report at General Assembly and then had a masked conversation with a friend on GA staff who was diagnosed with covid the next day. The Good Friday service leaders present at Park Lake all but one contracted covid at that gathering. Like the early church, the church today does well to be mindful of different cultures and their needs and practices at all times. I expect that mindfulness of the needs of others in our community of faith that is Presbytery is a good reminder that if the church is to carry out it’s mission to be Christ’s witnesses we need to think beyond ourselves and consider those we are together called to serve those whose lives touch ours in Christ’s love.