By Emily Enders Odom, Presbyterian News Service.
Luis Antonio (Tony) De La Rosa’s first day as interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency was far from business as usual.
As expectant worshipers entered the chapel of the Presbyterian Center for this year’s Advent service—eager to meet De La Rosa and welcome his preaching and his leadership—each was handed a peppermint lifesaver.
The unexpected token was a tangible reference to De La Rosa’s sermon title, “Lifesavers,” and—unbeknownst to them—to every employee of the six independent agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) housed at 100 Witherspoon Street.
After first offering the congregation a word of apology for his “late appearance” here today—De La Rosa had been expected to begin his new role on Dec. 1—he opened his meditation by unfolding the tale of how his original departure plans “went awry in the bitter cold on that early [Thanksgiving] morning, when a dastardly sidewalk curb snuck up in front of [him] and caused irreparable damage to one of [his] car’s tires.”
As he then described with both humor and poignancy the circumstances of his subsequent Thanksgiving Day “rescue,” De La Rosa said that “all sorts of miracles” came his way.
“Both friends and strangers came through in ways that looking back on it were signs of grace from a beneficent God,” he said. “Satan and his henchmen, Chaos and Disappointment, were not about to have their way.”
Deftly interweaving the story of his own Thanksgiving travel mishap with reflections on the two scripture passages for the day—2 Peter 1:12-21 and Psalm 33—De La Rosa reaffirmed the Psalmist’s conclusion that “God knows best.”