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Helping to realize God’s kingdom — even in a board meeting

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board hears a rousing yet humorous sermon from one of its own

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board member the Rev. Lindsay Harren-Lewis preaches during opening worship Wednesday at board meetings being held in Baltimore. (Photo by Rich Copley)

BALTIMORE — The Rev. Lindsay Harren-Lewis described for her colleagues on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Wednesday the messy and possibly catastrophic consequences that can occur while trying to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Harren-Lewis, associate pastor at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, preached during opening worship of the first of the board’s three days of meetings, which will include a joint meeting Thursday with the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly.

Preaching on 1 Cor. 1:18-32 and Micah 6:6-8, Harren-Lewis told this story on herself: Determined to help her family reduce their carbon footprint, she decided one day to try making homemade candles — including construction of a homemade double boiler, which she assembled using recycled parts.

Long story short, the beeswax she put on the stove and in the microwave ended up making a mess all over both surfaces, to say nothing of the double boiler.

At one point, her young son asked her, “Mom, can I leave the kitchen? I’m afraid something is going to explode.”

After what was indeed a minor explosion, his mother had precious little time to clean up, cook dinner and arrive at a presbytery meeting on time in a town 30 minutes away.

“I love it when my life becomes the perfect metaphor for the week,” she said with a laugh, and her fellow board members laughed along with her, “especially when you are thinking you are wise when you are not.”

She noted she had plenty of opportunities “to make a better decision, which would have resulted in a better outcome.” She has a friend experienced in candle-making, and “a church committee could have talked me down from my interest in Pinterest articles,” which led her to take on the project in the first place.

Opening worship was spirited during the winter meeting of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“That’s why we have the Bible, go to church and get together,” she said. “We need to set aside time to learn God’s wisdom and do the justice Jesus calls us to do.”

In Micah, “it’s not their worship practices God cares about,” she said, “but their relationships with others. And since God cares about those in the margin, we are to walk with God in a way that brings justice, humility and love for all others.”

“As we listen to one another,” she told her fellow board members, “the greatest blessing of being part of the board is what it means to be part of a connectional church. We get to know people who serve in rural and urban areas, people who live out their call in churches, classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms and the halls of Congress. These are people who remember my name,” she said, “when theirs is the name that everyone knows.”

“Friends, this is what it means to be God’s people,” she said. “It’s how we come together and try to understand God’s wisdom and act on that. We can help the kingdom of God on Earth to be realized — even in the midst of board meetings.”

And with those words, the board dove into its scheduled business.


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