Small departure from the Advent theme today; but not really. This post is all about promise.
Here's the thing. This morning I drove over to Clearwater with Rebekah because she was being installed at the moderator for Tampa Bay Presbytery. She says it's simply her turn to run meetings and attend events. But it's actually more than that, because if there's anything the Presbyterian Church around Tampa needs right now it's Rebekah's level of passion, her unbounded enthusiasm, her clear sense of vision, and her untempered faith that anything is possible for those who believe.
The theme of today's events was "Treasure." The emphasis presented by the outgoing moderator focused on "what do we consider to be our treasure... and what are we going to do with the gifts we've been challenged to utilize?"
Here's where providence was at work. Yesterday Rebekah received her copy of The Presbyterian Outlook, a weekly news magazine read by most Presbyterian Clergy and church leaders nationwide; and so did every other leader in the Tampa Bay area. Inside was the following article; it happened to be all about treasure.
Now I'm not so naive as to believe that any but a few took note of the by-line at the top of the article. But I do chose to believe that more than a few hearts and minds were touched by what they read.
I pray that yours is, too - DEREK
Ultimately, it's all about mission
- DEREK MAUL (The Presbyterian Outlook)
ROME - There’s nothing like a comprehensive tour of Vatican City for remembering why we’re a reformation church. A pause of just 60 seconds at each priceless artifact, our guide told us, would add up to 12 years viewing the museum alone.
I haven’t been to Louisville lately, but I’m guessing Presbyterians don’t have much in the way of valuable art beyond maybe a couple of velvet Elvis paintings and possibly a few nice coffee mugs. It occurred to me that we should be just as proud.
In the third century, Roman emperor Valerian ordered archdeacon Lorenzo to bring him all the wealth of the Christian church. Lorenzo introduced Valerian to the blind, the diseased, the lame and the poor. “These are the treasures of the church,” he insisted. The action earned him a torturous death.
I’d like to think that Lorenzo was an early Presbyterian. Because - at the foundation of who we are – all our most valuable resources are tied up in mission.
My wife and I were in Italy to visit our son, Andrew, who works for the U.S. government. But knows beyond a doubt that God sent him to Europe on purpose. His heart is in his volunteer mission projects with military brats, Department of Defense children, embassy kids, ex-patriot dependents and the men’s ministry on base.
But the place he first discovered his deep passion for mission and service was the Presbyterian Church. Honduras outreach trips, PDA relief work in Mississippi, and work with special needs children - all through his home congregation in Brandon, Florida.
So long as this church keeps its heart and its passion rooted in Gospel, in being the hands, feet, ears and eyes of Jesus, and in the practice of witness and compassion in this hurting world, then we will never need a museum to house our treasures.
Our guide in the Catacombs of San Sebastian, along the Appian Way and far from the extravagance that defines St. Peter’s, told a story that hit home. “Sebastian was nothing more than a Roman soldier and a simple Christian man,” he told us. “All he did was to follow Jesus. He lived his faith out loud, he told his friends about Christ, and he would not bow to Rome.”
I believe that is the kind of sainthood we are all called to live.