April 2009

Here are the most recent "monthly" church wide letters from both myself and Gradye Parsons.  Please feel free to pass them along, reflect on your own blogs and/or clip for use in newsletters and other church communications. 
Bruce Reyes-Chow Line

A monthly column for the church-at-large by the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.)

A life the church is compelled to live

 As I write this, we are in the midst of Holy Week and the walk toward the cross.

Every year as we enter this time, the church is pushed again to think about the realities and expressions of our beliefs in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The covenant made at the last supper, his death on the cross, and his resurrection into new life compel us to live in the world in a way that is worthy of the forgiveness given by God.

Not an easy task, for sure. Our transformation in Christ and its compelling nature is such a complex event in our lives, but yet so simple. The graciousness of our God and God’s love simply permeate our souls so that joy and hope can be our only response. Yet, at the same time, we live in God’s created world filled with a wondrous and often frustrating complexity, which sometimes makes it seem easier to give into the chaos around us.

Now, one could argue that the world is always in some kind of turmoil. But it seems that in today’s climate of economic turmoil, violence, war, and anxiety, being able to live this walk from promise to despair to hope is a life the church is compelled to live.

As the world faces death and despair in both body and spirit, will we be the hands and hearts of Christ to live, breathe, and share the hope that Christ brings? I have no doubt we will, for if we take seriously the gracious nature of God, we have no other choice but to live that new life for the world, as Christ has been the new life for each of us.

Bruce Reyes-Chow Line

A monthly column for the church-at-large by the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Great loss, great harvest

It is my good fortune to teach an adult Sunday school class once a month. A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing Ezekiel 36. I shared an essay by Carlyle Marney entitled, “Years of the Locust” (from Beggars in Velvet, Abingdon Press, 1960). The essay draws a parallel between the seasons of discontent and the account of the swarm of locusts in the Old Testament.

Marney relays an insight he received from a friend who witnessed firsthand how locusts swarm in Africa. When the locusts come, they eat every living plant down to the roots. The farmers and their hired hands will drive the cattle and horses out into the fields in an attempt to crush the locusts before they can lay their eggs. However, despite their efforts, the farmers will yield no harvest that year.

In small or large ways, my hunch is that we all have experienced our own “swarm of locusts,” many of us more recently than not. We have contributed to our 401(k)s for years, only to see them decline to nothing. We have given a great chunk of our lives to companies, only to receive pink slips in the end. We have faithfully paid our mortgages, only to find the value of our homes slide to basement levels. At times, it seems our best intentions – including our spiritual work – melt before the heat of our ambitions and selfishness.

But Marney offers a hopeful note in his essay. His friend reports that the year following the devastation by the locusts is a time for bountiful crops. The crushed locusts become a rich fertilizer for the soil.

It is using wisely a season of great loss that eventually yields great results.

Sisters and brothers, our Lenten journey will soon end and we will celebrate anew the great resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord will once again hear “Alleluia!” from our congregations. May we use wisely our losses in this season of the locusts and allow the Spirit to build a treasure for us that neither thief nor moth can touch.


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