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Today in the Mission Yearbook

‘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

March 4, 2024

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)

Drawing an insightful and inspirational Matthew 25 Summit to a close with worship, 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.

“When was the last time that you dreamed?” Moffett asked. “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?”

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

“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.”

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.

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. The Matthew 25 Summit’s last day was Jan. 18, 2024 at New Life Presbyterian Church in South Fulton, Georgia. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“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.

“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.”

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

“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.”

“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!”

Learn more about upcoming Matthew 25 Being Connected events here.

Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus: Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett closes the Matthew 25 Summit

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Stephanie Caudill, Mission Associate for Resources & Promotion, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency 
Omar Chan, Program Assistant, Application & Committee Support, Office of the General Assembly 

Let us pray

O God, we give thanks for the continuing witness to your love provided through teaching and healing ministries. May we find ways to uphold them as we too seek to be your faithful witnesses where we serve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.