May 27, 2011

Thank God for the Presbyterian Church

Two Sundays ago my office in the church was robbed during one of the morning worship services.

This morning, the church office received a phone call from the prosecutor's office that the young man who was caught on video surveillance has been apprehended and will be arraigned today. Unfortunately, for the young man, he has a history with the prosecutor's office. 

So the question that I've been trying to wrestle with this morning is, "Now what?" What does the church do to be the church of Jesus Christ for this young man? How can we help him without becoming enablers? 
  • Do we prosecute? 
  • What about forgiveness? What about restoration? What about redemption? 
  • Is prosecution - having this young man facing up to the consequences of his actions - incompatible with forgiveness? 
  • How can we be the church of Jesus Christ for this young man?
As I was wrestling with these questions this morning, it made me so grateful to be a presbyterian. 

First, I called one of my mentors and pastor friends who I respect greatly to talk through this situation. He has been in the pastorate far longer than I have and has tremendous wisdom. I thank God that there are people I can call to talk things through with. 

Thank God for the close relationships, connections, and friendships that have been forged through our denomination. Without a connectional church that forces us to engage with people from all over the country, there is no way I would have a close friend and mentor in upstate New York.

Second, Presbyterians don't have to figure these things out on their own. We have a marvelous pool of wisdom built into every church called the session. While we may not know what to do as individuals, together, as we seek God's guidance and listen to the counsel of other wise people, God leads us to know how we might be the church for this young man.

Isn't that great? 

There are issues in life that are too difficult and confusing to tackle alone. That's why God gave us the church. We're supposed to figure things out together. We really are supposed to listen to one another and help one another seek the way of Christ. And that pathway is discovered, more often than not, in the counsel of peers.

Thank God for the church, and thank God for the Presbyterian way of doing church.

We are far from being the perfect church. Our issues over 10-A (ordination debate) make that crystal clear.

However, as messy, difficult, time-consuming, and all those things about being Presbyterian, I wouldn't want to do church any other way.

Thank God for the Presbyterian church!

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