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As we approach the fall kickoff to the church program year, my thoughts keep coming back to the Protestant idea of the priesthood of all believers. This doctrine teaches that because of Jesus Christ, there is no need for someone to act as a mediator between the people and God. Everyone is just as spiritual, just as capable of speaking to God, and just as called to deliver God’s message to the world. Everyone is equally called to do God’s work and to minister to God’s people.
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Little House on the Prairie. The characters were old and young, likable and unlikable. Even though some (like the Olesons!) were petty and others made mistakes, they were always there for each other when it counted. Little House had story lines for both kids and adults on the show.
Quickly, kids! We need to get going or we’ll miss the service! This was my plea one Easter morning as I ushered my children out the door to make it to church. My husband and I served in different churches, and worshiping together was impossible. However, on this morning he was the guest preacher at a church that had a different worship schedule from ours. We were thrilled. Our family could celebrate together.
Which version of Jesus do we settle for? A wise philosopher? A meek and mild but constant caregiver? A macho conqueror? A divine butler? It’s challenging to resist the impulse to settle for a Jesus who does not fully represent the Lord and Savior presented in the New Testament. Challenging, of course, but not new. Looking at John 6:35, 41–51, we see Jesus’ followers missing the boat as they long to settle for a miraculous baker rather than the Bread of Life.
Mark lived on the streets of Hollywood, well known by social service providers as one of the toughest homeless cases in the city. He was often found standing on a street corner, looking disheveled, staring into space. His looks scared most people away.
It is Easter morning and members of Del Muerto Presbyterian Church assemble around a roaring fire. They gather close to the edge of Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona — an ancient home of the Anasazi Indians and a historic hideout for Navajos resisting Spanish and American invaders. The morning gathering is the culmination of “SingSpiration,” the congregation’s three-day tent revival, which has been so successful that they ran out of mutton stew at Saturday’s lunch.
Ministry candidates talk about them. Moderators share them with session members during meetings. Pastors do sermon series on them. “They” are the Great Ends of the Church — statements crafted in the early 20th century to guide the vision and mission of the Presbyterian Church. But who can recite all six Great Ends? (Be honest.) And what do these Great Ends look like when lived out? Presbyterians Today explores how congregations embrace these guiding principles in ways that show their communities the power of love in action.
Too often we hear about something that is successful for another church and, when we look into it, our immediate thought is “that won’t work here.” We often reject what it is before understanding why it works. Why it works is about inner connection, not surface trappings.
Glory Banda was born in Malawi. She was also born deaf. Soon after her parents realized their child couldn’t hear, her father divorced her mother. Glory’s mother, desperate and brokenhearted, returned to live in her parents’ home. A child, who should have been a blessing, became the source of grief and pain.
Hunger is at the heart of being human. People hunger for food, for love, for belonging and for Christ himself. Feeding the hunger of humanity is why the church exists. Presbyterian churches around the country are working to creatively nourish and sustain those who struggle with food insecurity, malnourishment and poverty.