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‘C’mon, church! Won’t you dream?’

The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett closes the Matthew 25 Summit by urging attendees to help bring about God’s kin-dom here and now

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, preaches during closing worship at the Matthew 25 Summit, held this week at New Life Presbyterian Church in South Fulton, Georgia. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — Drawing an insightful and inspirational Matthew 25 Summit to a close with worship Thursday, the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett asked those gathered at New Life Presbyterian Church in South Fulton, Georgia, and online to “consider with me” the thrust of her sermon, “Dream Driven.” View the sermon preached by Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, here. Her sermon begins 48 minutes from the end.

“When was the last time that you dreamed?” Moffett asked, the first of many questions she posed during her sermon. “When was the last time you felt passion for a subject?”

“When was the last time you dreamed like Joseph,” when “you were bold enough and bad enough to share the dream, even when it offended those who heard the dream?”

“When was the last time, church, you dreamed for wholeness and health … for justice to flow like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream?”

“When was the last time you dreamed until your heart ached and your soul hurt? Has life been so hard that it’s kept you from dreaming? Has imagination and innovation been choked out of you?”

Sometimes we’re parched like the dried-up fig tree Jesus points out and recorded in Mark’s gospel. “When is the last time you were watered?” Moffett asked. “When is the last time you were in the presence of the Holy and you could not leave? You knew in this moment God was reaffirming her presence in you and you came to yourself. You were satisfied and anointed, and you began to dream.”

Throughout the Matthew 25 Summit, The Many provided inspiring vocal offerings. (Photo by Rich Copley)

As they prepared to go home, Moffett invited summit attendees to “sit with the Spirit and let the Spirit sit with you, and just dream,” like other Matthew 25 congregations have, such as those in the Presbytery of the Pacific that helped get California state law changed to bring additional affordable housing to people in Los Angeles County.

“C’mon, church!” Moffett said. “Won’t you dream?”

She also cited Knox Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, a majority-white church that “acknowledged its racist history without shame or blame,” Moffett noted. “They didn’t send a check. They sent themselves and their investments” to Third Presbyterian Church, a majority Black church in town. Moffett also praised the exemplary Matthew 25 ministry going on at Liberty Community Church in Minneapolis and by Justice Knox among First Presbyterian Church and its partners in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“From the story of the sheep and goats, we learn what Jesus requires and desires from us,” Moffett said. “He’s judging the nations that create systems. We created racism, and that’s why we can dismantle it.”

Recalling her seminary days at San Francisco Theological Seminary, Moffett told how Princeton Theological Seminary’s Dr. Geddes “Guy” W. Hanson used to journey to the Bay Area each year to put on summer sessions. One student would rise early each day to spend time in the library to keep up on current scholarship. “No one was looking over their shoulder,” Moffett said. “Though they had not yet been accepted into the PhD program, they saw themselves as a scholar.” Hanson noticed, then made this remarkable assessment: “People are motivated to do things that actualize their self-understanding.”

“Those who are righteous act like Jesus,” Moffett said. “We stand in for Jesus. We re-present him as we serve the marginalized and the vulnerable.”

“It’s beautiful,” Moffett said, “when we are open enough and quiet enough to allow God to deposit in us what God wants us to know.”

Like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before us, “we as a people will get to our promised land — the place where God would have us to be.”

Dreaming can get us thrown into a pit, as it did to Joseph, and can cost you your life, as it did with King less than 24 hours after he made his mountaintop declaration. “You may kill the dreamer, but the dream lives on,” Moffett said. “They crucified Jesus on Good Friday, but early Sunday morning he did rise.”

The co-chairs of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo and the Rev. Michelle Hwang, presided at table during closing worship. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” Moffett said, quoting Harriet Tubman. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”

“Not merely by our might and power,” Moffett added, “but by the spirit of one we call Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen and amen!”

Like they had several times throughout the summit, people stood and cheered God’s word for them as delivered by Moffett. Then they took communion as the co-chairs of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, the Rev. Michelle Hwang and the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, presided at the table.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett delivers the benediction to close the Matthew 25 Summit. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“As we prepare to leave here,” Moffett said just before pronouncing her benediction, “think about what is the one thing you are going to do as a result of this time together?”

“You are on the ground floor. We are here to be a connectional church, and the way we connect is to share our stories,” Moffett said, encouraging those in attendance to tell about what’s working for them as they seek to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism and eradicate systemic poverty.

“As you go from this place, may the Lord bless you and keep you,” she said, reciting the famous blessing found in Numbers 6, adding “peace, poise and power for the living of these days and always” to the traditional blessing. “People of God, say, ‘Amen!’ Go and serve the Lord. Thank you and amen.”

Learn more about upcoming Matthew 25 Being Connected events here.

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