Season of Peace Reflection for 9/20

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

Reflection: Discernment is a serious, spiritual task, and one entirely consistent with our historic Presbyterian ethos of public responsibility for the common good. It is both personal, involving our God who “alone is Lord of the conscience,” and communal, involving the church as a community of moral discourse, shaped in the Reformed tradition by an understanding of covenant. Discernment involves clear perception of facts and our relation to them, for the sake of faithful action.

There is a fruitful paradox at the heart of discernment: on the one hand, if discernment is to be genuine, it cannot have predetermined outcomes; on the other hand, we never come to discernment with a blank slate, but must always bring ourselves, our values, and our experiences. Authentic discernment involves a fresh encounter with the Spirit of the Living Christ.

So while nonviolence is a clear option to be presented, our discernment process is open-ended. The outcome of this process is not predetermined. Nor do we expect all Presbyterians to agree with even a consensus view of the best approaches to different kinds of violence and conflict. Yet, just as individual members bring their own experience and conviction, so the faith that we share brings with it a tradition and wisdom about how to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question for discernment: What spiritual gift(s) do you have, and how are you using your gift(s) to further the common good?

Prayer: Generous God, we thank you for the gifts you have given us through the Holy Spirit. Help us to use them for the common good of all. As members of one body, may we together discern how to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in a world wracked with conflict and violence.

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