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!


Reverend Janet

3 Responses
  • Janet L. Bohren on June 25, 2010

    This is so apropos as I have been explaining what it is to be presbyterian to a friend at church who comes out of a Roman Catholic background. I plan to forward this to her. I look forward to your post from GA next week. So wish I could be with you all there, but not to be this year.

  • Janet L. Bohren on June 25, 2010

    A brief techie note for your blog – I have downloaded Safari 5 and it has a reader button on the URL line. When you click this button just the article is visible on a black background with none of the surrounding text or comments. This means your full name is not visible Janet. there is a print button in the reader and one gets only the article (no url etc) this way.

    Because I have a slight visual problem and reading is now more difficult, the reader button puts black text on white background, which is easier for me to read. Others with vision problems might like to know of this option in Safari. I don’t know if Explorer of Firefox has this reader option.

  • Janet Edwards on June 26, 2010

    Dear Janet,

    Thanks very much for this tip for some who may also appreciate a different format for reading here!

    I hope what I say here is helpful to your friend with a Roman Catholic heritage. I am proud of our Presbyterian contribution to the Church, the Body of Christ on this earth. I am also aware of the gifts other branches of Christendom bring to the rest of us. Paul gets it right when he described the church as Many gifts, One Spirit.

    And the GLBT community is very similar: a unity created from a wonderful diversity.

    May we all share and receive gifts with others with joy. Peace, Janet

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