Here at City Pres, we like to always take time to acknowledge the weak and wounded, sick and sore – us. We don’t want to gloss over the crummy parts of life. Our whole Lent series was entitled Doubting Fearful Heart. We make a point to sing sad songs. We follow the Man of Sorrows. We’re not calling people to leave their troubles at the door, but invite everyone to bring them into church and to Jesus himself.
BUT. Goodness gracious God has been doing so many incredible things in our new church. We bought a building and moved in – and if you haven’t been in and seen this building it is incredible. We had 530 people in our Easter Service. We have new visitors every week. We have the best staff. We have eager volunteers. I think we have the greatest church blog on the planet. Our parties are ones I’m proud of.
This week we elected our first ruling elders – these men went through extensive Leadership Training (as did 11 other men and women), and then stood for testing and examination by a presbytery committee. You may yawn at this, but I don’t. Perhaps I would have. However, I’m seeing more and more how church polity matters, and how we can learn from those who have gone before us. There are ways of doing things that help people and show that we care. They don’t solve sin problems. They don’t prevent sin problems. They don’t fix our hearts.
They do help us with a collective wisdom, with ways to do and undo things, and with a structure that can be known and understood. We followed these practices, and I am confident that it has helped and will help. I am standing firmly in the Presbyterian tradition with vigor and hope in Christ.
We have an important service coming up on June 8th where we will ordain and install these men as elders in our church. You’re invited June 8th at 5pm to join us in a very important ceremony, in a huge party, in a way we do something that matters forever in the church and to Christ himself.
And I’m excited about something that’s perhaps even more important: God is at work. You should hear what people are talking about. They’re really struggling with what Jesus is and does, with what grace might mean when faced with awful truths in lives and hearts, with walking with other real people in real ways, with not being surprised by sin like moralists, with wondering and imagining what God might have for us in our worship, work and communities. I’m hearing about conversations that are awful and terrible, beautiful and redemptive.
There is form. There is story. There is ceremony. There is liturgy. There is substantiation. There is legality. There is life. There is death. There is resurrection. There is forgiveness. There is church discipline. There is honesty. There is grace.
It’s good. It’s really good. God is good. He’s really good, and he’s really good here. It’s not all bad. There is hope!