Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Moderator and Vice Moderator issue letter on marriage amendment
Dear members and friends of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Presbyteries have been engaged in conversation, discernment, and prayer concerning the recommendations from the 221st General Assembly (2014) in the nine months since Detroit, Michigan. Today, Amendment 14-F (On Amending W-4.9000 Marriage) received the required majority from the presbyteries.
The approved amendment to the Book of Order lifts up the sanctity of marriage and the commitment of loving couples within the church. It also allows teaching elders to exercise their pastoral discretion in officiating weddings and in doing so “… the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.”
Though we know that this amendment received the necessary majority for approval, we encourage the congregations, presbyteries, and synods of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to continue to be in conversation about marriage and family. We hope that such “up/down” voting does not mark the end, but the continuation of our desire to live in community; a partnership that requires prayer, the study of Scripture, listening to and with one another, and a dedication to partnership in the midst of our diversity of opinion.
We trust that God whose Word brought Creation into being is also the same Word that speaks to us today. With confidence, we believe that God calls the Church into living as a transformative community that embraces the call to be God’s beloved community in the world.
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
The Reverend Larissa Kwong Abazia Vice Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
Monday, March 9, 2015
In this difficult season in the Presbyterian Church (USA), may we be reminded of the grace we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord. This definition of "grace" comes from Frederick Buechner's Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC:
After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody's much interested anymore. Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.
Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.
A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?
A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There's nothing
you have to do. There's nothing you
have to do. There's nothing you have to do.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.
There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it.
Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.