“Who are you,” asks the children’s catechism. The response is, “I am a child of God.” We are then to know that we are children of God because we belong to God who loves us. As we grow up and continue to learn about our faith, there is another answer for this question of what makes us children of God. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says peacemakers are children of God. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, he explains that our ministry is the same as Christ’s ministry: reconciliation.
The Prince of Peace calls us to become peacemakers and to work for reconciliation just as Christ does. This theme runs through the Biblical witness regarding God’s intention for humankind.
When I was a teenager one of the popular songs in church was, “Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now….” This sentiment and calling still tugs at me.
When I preside at the communion of the church in Christ’s name and at God’s table, it is a daunting experience. I truly believe that everyone is invited. Which means that sometimes I am uncomfortable when I think about who might sit next to me in coming reign of Christ. Maybe the person next to me bullied me. Maybe I thought that person across the table was mean. What if I am afraid of that person? What if that one there did something really heinous and violent? What if I just think they’re snobs and won’t like me so I don’t like them?
See the problem? That thinking is all about me, and not about the life and work of Christ. It is all about becoming God the Judge instead allowing God to be my loving parent.
The miracle of grace we have in Christ is this: no one is excluded and yet everything evil is purged by God such that the guests of God are blameless before their host through the life and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Even me.
I am welcomed and healed as well. Healed of my hatred,
my judgements, my desire for punishment for those evildoers, and ultimately, healed of my own evil-doings. Everything that disrupts peace is removed so that I can see
both the image of God in my fellow dinner guests and the
image of God in the mirror as well.
We come to the table of grace now not because we are already free of the grip of sin but because we know none of us can be eternally in its grasp. We belong to God, who loves us. We have been reconciled to God in Christ. We come to be nourished for the job of making peace. We come to practice peacemaking at this table. We come to remember that we all belong together.
Bring your “despicable me.” I’ll bring mine. Let peace begin, here, now, between us.
In Christ, through Christ, for Christ,
Recently some friends of friends of Facebook friends were lamenting the possibility of Rock Spring closing and selling to a developer. If you were one of those people, please be aware there is a lot of inaccurate information about the sale on that thread. RSPC does have a contract to sell property behind the church and we did approve a new proposal that will create 9 single-family homes, which the buyer will likely present as part of a rezoning application. The property where the manse sits has already been sold and closed and the house is occupied by tenants not affiliated with the church.
Back to the Facebook commentary, one person said they attended our worship and paraphrasing her, she posted, “they need people.” Another person suggested the church start a GoFundMe campaign. Another cited our denominational affiliation as the problem.
Sorrows about an historical property selling out and a few solutions offered—all by interested but not currently affiliated friends and neighbors. Three ideas proposed for the church: people, money, change of identity.
Let’s start with the identity question. We are a church of Jesus Christ. This is our primary loyalty. As a progressive church situated between two less progressive religious institutions, we offer our community another face of God. As a welcoming church we are open to doubters and people with questions. It is our hope that intellectual engagement with great questions of faith will lead to personal exploration that is spiritually enriching. We do put devotion before dogma and righteousness before rightness.
If you want to think about meaning and purpose and if you want a community building relationships across the divides society imposes, if you want a place where hope for the future is believed, RSPC may be for you.
And we are also Presbyterian, PCUSA, without apology. There’s room for you, if not with us, with another PCUSA congregation in Atlanta where there are more than 30,000 of us worshipping in many different styles and representing different understandings of God’s word to us. Let us help you find your place.
Which leads to the question about membership. Yes, we are small and we need more friends. If you do, too, you are welcome, no matter who you are, who you love or who you think God is. Because we are all made in God’s image, we need everyone together to get a sense of who our Creator is in full.
Membership at RSPC is less important than participants. We’re less interested in whether you join us and more interested in joining you on this journey of life.
So what do you need? We’re really good at organizing events—do you have a philanthropy near and dear to your heart—let us help you go bigger. Do you want to know more about the God of the Bible but are done with hatred and judgment—come meet the God of reconciliation who wants people to get along even if they have different opinions. Do you want to offer a few hours here and there changing the world one person at a time? Volunteer for our sandwich ministry or one of the advocacy training groups we support.
Money—who doesn’t need money? We do not have a GoFundMe page because we have a GoFundMe moment every Sunday. We believe the administration of the church is the responsibility of the members of the church. BUT, anyone who wants to invest in the mission of RSPC is welcome to send us a contribution. You can even designate your gift. So, yea, Go Fund Us at the address and office hours below.
Back to the thread prompting this post:
Yes, the church sold some property;
Yes, we’d love more people to be part of the ongoing history of this people of faith—you are all welcome;
Yes, we’d be grateful for your investment in creating a better world through our ministry with your time, talents, or tithes (money);
Yes, we’d love to get to know you!
No, we can’t do it alone, so if you think our history has a future that you can be part of,
What are you waiting for? Say yes.
Sundays: Book Study – 10:00 a.m. We Make the Road By Walking, by Brian McLaren
Sanctuary Worship – 11:00 a.m.
Thursdays: Gospel at The Rock –G@TR-- a praise and conversation time with our Bluegrass band, in the Loudermilk building
For our full calendar go to www.rspc.org or www.facebook.com/RockSpringPresChurch/
Our address: 1824 Piedmont Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30324
If you have any questions about our ministry, please call me. I’m the pastor and I look forward to meeting you.
Rev. Beverly Friedlander as our contract call pastor. Rev. Bev has served a number of churches as an Interim Ministry Specialist and has served in grief ministry for hospice. The good news is the ever-present God, who meets us in joy and sorrow to be our peace.