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“The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.” On Sunday mornings in congregations across the country, hands are shaken, and the words of Christ’s peace are exchanged with one another. Yet what does it mean to pass the peace of Christ into a world that is often anxious?
Think about the first and last words of Scripture. The book of Genesis opens with “In the beginning …” (Gen. 1:1). And the book of Revelation closes with “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20), followed only by a postscript extending Christ’s grace to all the saints. The season of Advent brings together both ends of the Bible.
Seeing people happy around the table makes me think that something good is happening among them. But seeing people laughing, smiling, talking to each other — and even dancing — around food makes me realize how important the time of fellowship is at the church dinners we share.
What a trap! They came to put Jesus in jeopardy with the authorities regarding the payment of taxes to Caesar, and he turned it back on them. They were caught in their own theological trap because they had a double standard. They did their best to get along with the Roman authorities, while quietly teaching their people that God — not the civil authorities — must be the ultimate object of their worship. They taught that in the end, everything belongs to God, so when Jesus put before them the coin showing the image of Caesar, they were in a bind. The worship of the one on the coin was a basic principle of Roman citizenship. He was to be worshiped and obeyed not simply as the political primate, but as a god, and therefore a divine alternative to the God of Israel, to whom the Jewish leaders were bound.
Stewardship is not simply asking for pledges at the end of the year to meet the needs of the church’s budget for the following year. Stewardship is a theological statement — a way of life. And it comes from believing that we are beloved children of God.
“Yes! This is what’s missing in the church. This is what I’ve been seeking.”
Does enough exist? Is there ever enough time, money, sleep, love, faith, justice, energy or peace for us? Why does it feel like we are always lacking in these and other areas of our lives?
When Laura Mitchell receives a nudge from God, she sees it through. “Sunrise of Hope,” a one-day mental health summit hosted by La Jolla Presbyterian Church in California this past spring, was one of those nudges.
A new readership study for Presbyterians Today (PT), the official denominational magazine of the PC(USA), offers an in-depth portrait of the publication’s recipients, their needs and interests, and their connection to the church. The survey, conducted by the PC(USA)’s Research Services office, was sent to 18,043 PT readers in March, and final findings were compiled and tabulated this summer.
Inside St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, Pennsylvania, are more than 20 murals painted by Croatian immigrant Maxo Vanka in the late 1930s and early ’40s. Many of the paintings depict the immigrant experience in America. There is one of St. Francis, though, that shows Vanka’s love of animals, especially his fondness of birds. In the painting, exotic birds can be seen encircling the patron saint of animals.