The Presbytery of Carlisle has a special service to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the reformation. The service was at Market Square Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg on October 29, 2017. Nine singers from St. Andrews were in a Presbytery wide choir, that sang two anthems. Four pastors offered reflections, including Pastor Robin.
This is the reflection Pastor Robin offered:
“ When he had gone out, Jesus said,
‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’”
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. This was the day, growing up when all family would gather. There would be so many people, extra tables would be set up turning the family room into a dining room. There we would sit, all together enjoy the delicious feast, and talking. We would talk for hours, and I loved it! (Maybe this is why I don’t mind committee meetings). People sat and talked for hours, long after the plates had cleared; they talked over pie, and as the sky turned dark… sometimes there was even a transition to a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.
The chairs around these tables were filled by my great-grandmother at 83, me at 5 years old, and every age in between. They were filled by die-hard democrats and die-hard republicans. These tables were surrounded by people who taught Sunday School in church each week, and people who had not been in a church since the last family wedding. These tables were surrounded by wildly different thoughts; yet these thoughts and beliefs, worries and hopes, were all lifted up in the air and received with careful consideration, or with persuasion and questioning…but always with love. Because no matter what we thought or believed, no matter how we agreed or disagreed, worried or hoped, we were family.
When my family began going to church, I was 9 years old. It was a Presbyterian Church, but until I went to seminary, I really had no idea what it meant to be Presbyterian. But the Presbyterian church was the right place for me to be and continues to be, because in this tradition we fill seats at tables with those who have different ideas, and different ways of living and practicing our faith. We may disagree, we may struggle to understand one another, but we continue to strive together, because it is our differences that keep us as a people who continue to reform.
The disciples gathered around a table, Jesus washed their feet, and commanded them, not to believe the same thing, not to live their faith in the same way. No, Jesus commanded them to love.
We may wonder what the future holds. We may wonder what reforms, changes, challenges may come next, as we seek to be Christ’s church in this time and place. Yet, what we are called to do is gather, in hope, in love, around God’s Word and around Christ’s table. God is not contained in any one person, or in any one community’s understanding. And so, we keep talking. We keep listening. We keep striving, reforming, opening our hearts to God and to one another because in Christ we love, because in Christ we are all family.
This ability to disagree and love is something that we do.
This is something our world needs, desperately.
To be reformed always reforming, is to live into the realization that none of us have everything right.
May we continue to gather around tables.
May we continue to love.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.