The Presbyterian Thing to Do
I had the immense privilege last Sunday to preach at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Knowing that their pastor, Chester Topple, identified the church as “fiercely Presbyterian,” I began the sermon by asking this wonderful congregation, “What is the essential quality of being Presbyterian?”
The first one of many to speak up was a woman at the back who said firmly, “Christian!” Amen to that!
In The New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:7-20, Paul talks about what it is to be a Christian, with the emphasis on honoring one’s own body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Another way to say this is that we recognize Christ in our own selves. Hand in hand with this is honoring others as temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells — or, phrased differently, seeing Christ in others.
Being Christian — being Presbyterian — means seeing Christ in the eyes of everyone we meet, including GLBT Presbyterians.
GLBT Presbyterians want to see Christ in all we meet and we want others to see Christ in us. With all Christians, we know, as Paul says, that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we take this to heart as we live our lives. We seek to love God and neighbor. We seek to do the Christian thing, the Presbyterian thing.
Yet we all know that this is not easy. Each one of us fails regularly in our commitments. And we recognize that when we fall short, we must ask forgiveness and set out to do better. Indeed, reforming ourselves is a particularly Presbyterian thing to do. We are reformed, always reforming. We admit our mistakes and work to correct them.
At lunch after church, my friend Michael overheard two elderly men of Westminster in conversation. One quizzed the other, “Now what is the Presbyterian thing to do?”
While there is nothing more pleasing to the preacher than the people getting the point of the sermon, my prayer is that we may all go forth and do the Christian thing, the Presbyterian thing, each moment, one after the other. We have the opportunity to do this in our churches everyday and, for the PCUSA as a whole, we will have a huge opportunity at the General Assembly in a few weeks. We can remember Christ in the GLBT people in our midst and bring the rules of the church into harmony with this Presbyterian thing to do.
Next week, I will probe more deeply into the Presbyterian — the Christian — thing to do at the PCUSA General Assembly. Stay tuned!