Discernment Devotionals #4

Being and Doing Presbyterian
Devotion 4
Celebrating Our Reformed Identity
Scripture:  Colossians 1:3-14
Focus: You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.
Book of Order:
F-3.0202 Governed by Presbyters
This church shall be governed by presbyters, that is, ruling elders and teaching elders.  Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt. 20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life.  Teaching elders shall be committed in all their work to equipping the people of God for their ministry and witness.
         The Year of Our Lord 2017 shall be the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s  publication of his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, thus laying the foundation for the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  From that momentous day on October 31st, the rich heritage of Protestant Denominationalism took off.  Among the great gifts that our ancestor, John Calvin, left the world was the understanding of church governance known as Presbyterian.  The third chapter of the Foundations section of our Book of Order lays out the principles upon this way of being and doing Presbyterian rests.  It is a way of church life that has borne much fruit in the world.  The shared practice of this way has spread across the Earth.  As a way committed to deep discernment of the truth of the God’s Word, it has strengthened and nurtured the faith and life of many.
            One of the things that has occurred in the last century is the great multiplication of denominations, groups and independent congregations in the U.S.A.  There are now literally tens of thousands in America alone.  In our highly mobile world, more and more church going families chose their church not by denominational heritage or loyalty, but by many other factors.  And the pattern of church going has markedly changed by those who do.  As we move into a new structure and paradigm for living out our Presbyterian Way in 2017, the 500th anniversary invites us to renew ourselves in the great gifts of our heritage, but in the same Reformation spirit, ask how we can faithfully be joined in ways that bear the fruits of God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ.

Meditation Question:

What is distinctive about your congregation’s presence in your community/ neighborhood?