Support Presbyterian World Mission
There are two motivating questions that I try to keep in mind. These are big picture questions that bring me back to what I believe is the true purpose and direction of my calling, and my ministry among you.
The first is, “Where is the energy?” This is my spiritual discernment question. There is always so much to do, so many different directions, and so many different tasks; but this question helps me focus. “Where is the energy?” By this I am seeking to understand where and with whom I perceive the Holy Spirit to be working in our midst. What is God doing?
My second motivating question is this: “How can we connect?” How can we connect with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, how can our congregations connect with each other, how can we connect together as a presbytery, and, most important, how can we connect with what God is doing in our midst?
Where is the energy? How can we connect? These are spiritual discernment questions for me, and like all spiritual discernment I find bits and pieces of answers to these questions all over the place, and in many surprising places. But there is one answer to both of these motivating questions that is far above and beyond all the other bits and pieces of answers which I see in other places. There is, for me, a very clear, number one answer to both of these questions. It is our world mission work.
In our world mission work, in which I have been very involved, I find spiritual energy and powerful connections which are together motivating, transforming and incredibly life-giving. This is my thesis: In our world mission work we will find the energy and the connection to move into the future which God has prepared for our life together.
For many of you I know, I am preaching to the choir: Our Derry Church has been building homes in Nicaragua for more than ten years, our Gettysburg Church has led medical mission trips to Honduras in cooperation with CURE international for more than ten years, our Pine Street Church blessed their members Eric and Becky Hinderliter into Presbyterian world mission service and they will begin a new term of service in Lithuania, our Mechanicsburg Church built a new church building for the Presbyterian Church of Honduras, our Market Square Church has made a generous commitment to the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Haiti, our Silver Spring Church has had a sister to sister church relationship in South Africa, our Lower Marsh Creek has had a sister to sister church relationship in Russia, our Falling Spring Church blessed their members the Diane and Scott Carper into mission service in Honduras, Second Carlisle and Christ Church Camp Hill have made commitments to support the work of Presbyterian missionaries Tim and Gloria Wheeler in Honduras. This list goes on and on and on. All of this work should be encouraged and supported. I would like to ask those of you who have had a strong world mission commitment to test my thesis. In our world mission work we will find the energy and the connection to move into the future which God has prepared for our life together.
This is a remarkably healthy presbytery with a very high level of trust and a beautiful collegiality. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do ministry together with you; and I find deep joy and a lot of fun in this work. At our June Presbytery meeting in 2005 I was elected to this position. I remember pondering at that time that moving into this governing body work was a real experiment in faith. I thought then that maybe I would try this for about five years. I remember telling my wife that I am not really interested in working with some dysfunctional, conflicted, nasty presbytery. If that is what this becomes I will simply find another good church to serve. Today, I am sorry to disappoint some of you, but I am not going anywhere. I love this job. I am very grateful for this opportunity.
This is my thesis: In our world mission work we will find the energy and the connection to move into the future which God has prepared for our life together. Standing here now in 2010, my question becomes what do we need to do to move to the next level? How can we claim the future which God has prepared for our life together? Of course, I already have an answer to test with all you. In our world mission work we will find the energy and the connection to move into the future which God has prepared for our life together.
1) I challenge every one of our congregations to connect with our world mission work. About half of you are already doing this. Focus on and grow that work; there is energy and connection there. For those of you looking for an opportunity or seeking another one, I encourage you to connect with the ministry we have created in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Honduras. Sponsored by and organized by the Presbyterian Church in Honduras - this is their ministry - and hosted by our Presbyterian missionaries in Honduras the Wheelers and the Wrights, we have the opportunity to contribute to a home building ministry in Tegucigalpa. If you have never been on a mission trip and have no world mission connection, please consider this opportunity. This ministry is serving Presbyterian families in the context of some of the difficult poverty in the world. This is their ministry and we simply walk along side of them in partnership.
2) I challenge every one of our congregations to make a commitment to Basic Mission Giving and Presbyterian World Mission in order to sustain and grow the number of professional Presbyterian missionaries we have deployed around the world. Support Basic Mission Giving and Presbyterian World Mission. Presbyterian World Mission is a glorious and proud dimension of our heritage, and I believe Presbyterian World Mission will help us find a way forward. Please support Presbyterian World Mission in direct and relational ways.
3) I challenge every one of our congregations to claim the “Both/And” theology of the New Testament. The call to mission in the New Testament is a call to Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. It is a “Both/And” theology. We are called to mission in Tegucigalpa and Nicaragua and Lithuania and Malawi and we are called to mission in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, the downside of Chambersburg and into all the almost invisible pockets of poverty up and down Path Valley and throughout Fulton, Perry, and Juniata countries. We are called to the ends of the earth and we are called to stock the neighborhood food pantry. I challenge us to cast out the destructive “Either/Or” theology of scarcity and claim again the abundant “Both/ And” theology of the New Testament.
In our world mission work we will find the energy and the connection to move into the future which God has prepared for our life together. May it be so! Amen!