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Faith Today In The Presbyterian Church

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David December 6, 2007

In September of 1987, I stood before a congregation of church members and Presbyters to answer the ordination questions listed in W-4.0003. I was nervous, excited, proud and confident that my answers to the nine questions would be true and from the heart. Now, twenty years later, I look at these same questions as I come before you, because in the wisdom of the Spirit, you wish to learn more about me and my understanding of service to the Kingdom of God. As members of the Church, and therefore, one another we must be willing to say the truth with conviction and with heartfelt intention to bring change in itself and the world God has placed us in. This is why I wish to attend General Assembly, to be a part of the change that our Lord and our scripture call us to do.

I am still faced with these profound questions from our Book of Order, and I must confess that my understanding or interpretation of their answers is different than twenty years ago. I have changed in twenty years, and the practice of ministry has taught me more about life, God and the role of the church. Since graduation I have discovered that the primary role of faith as expressed in those answers is not to be found in doctrine, orthodoxy, church councils or tomes of Christian literature. It is to be found in the scriptures that come alive in the Kingdom of God today.

The Kingdom of God is a vast mystery spanning time and embracing peoples, cultures, media and technologies. Its hands, feet and voice are found within the church of Jesus Christ, as it speaks of hope, love, justice, peace and joy. It is the sound of uncountable footsteps that scuffle, march, or run after the Lord Jesus Christ. This following of Christ by the church is the principal way in which the church lives in culture that is sometimes sympathetic, sometimes apathetic and sometimes hostile to the purposes of the Kingdom. It is the church which reveals the will of God and how God’s glory is manifested in the life of Jesus and his body, the Church.

The followers of Jesus in 2008 are no different from Christians of other centuries. We struggle with issues of changing technology, political turmoil, poor leadership, corruption in high places and issues that divide and splinter us into insignificant sects with small numbers, poor in resources and too timid in faith to proclaim that Christ is sovereign. And yet, the church of Jesus Christ marches on.

Still now as we face a divided house, as we wrestle with questions of sexuality, as we argue over undefined tenets and play politics with Robert’s Rules, we face a crisis that is of such import, that it is equaled only by the warnings of Jesus and the coming of the Son of Man.

“…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29b)

This crisis will affect every living son and daughter of Eve as well as their children and grandchildren. Some have predicted that the coming apocalypse will reduce the planet’s population to a mere handful 2 to 3 % of its current size. But we have ignored these warnings, calling the prophets doomsayers and continuing to buy and sell as if there were no change in temperature, no rising sea, no retreating glaciers, no alteration in global storm patterns or rise in rate of skin cancer.

We, the elders, the pastors, the executives and clerks of the Presbyterian church are as guilty as the bishops, popes and doctors of theology a thousand years ago who argued about angels dancing on the head of a pin while the bubonic plague danced its way across Europe. Scientific journals, newspapers, documentaries all chronicle the symptoms found in the weather or oceanic systems. They are beginning to show that Mr. Gore’s Noble Prize-winning work, An Inconvenient Truth, was written too optimistically. Others show evidence that global warming will approach cataclysmic proportions within the next fifty years.

Or perhaps you think, “Oh, the scientists solved the problem with the hole in the Ozone layer, they will solve the problem of global warming too.” I hope you are right. I truly pray that God will speak to the heart of a genius and provide a miracle cure for our ailing

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