(By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook.) J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), preached Nov. 2 in a Reformation Season worship service in the chapel at the denomination’s national offices in Louisville, Kentucky. The sermon was titled “Write the Vision – Reclaim the Call.”
The intent had been to live-stream the worship service for Presbyterians to watch as it took place, but technical difficulties disrupted the feed. A video of the service is now available online.
Nelson said of the PCUSA: “We are in need of another Reformation.”
When the prophet Habakkuk cried out to God, the people of Judea were facing a crisis and “people were asking ‘Where is God? Where is God?’ I believe people are asking the same question (today) at a time when (there are) threats of war, terrorism, racism, sexism, poverty in the midst of plenty, indifference towards differences, children being taught to get under the desks to avoid being killed in the classroom, the same question is being raised in the midst of our personhood being threatened, judgments on personhood being rendered by votes on the floor of the General Assembly. Come on, people. It’s time for a reformation of heart, word and deed regarding our allegiance to God, which leads to our allegiance to one another.”
“I want to suggest that lament is good. It frees us of the stuff that represents faithlessness in our lives. We get a chance to purge ourselves of all that internal anxiety. However, the danger of lament is that we can allow it to be a chorus of our everyday existence. Thus we are weighed down from any real spiritual or supernatural claims, because our soul is depleted by the continuous cry of self-pity and failure to acknowledge the power, presence and possibilities of God Almighty. I am convinced this is the core of our struggle as Presbyterians. We are still lamenting the changes in the world and the loss of the church we once knew. Still lamenting that things aren’t the way they used to be. News flash. News flash. They’re not going back. We need to prayerfully claim the promises that God has already given to us and use those as an impetus to move forward, claiming and declaring that this mystery called life is worth engaging in…By the power of the Holy Spirit simply living into the mystery, living into it with the faith that God can do anything and everything with faith.”
“We must become a praying community again. Prayer is the source of our power that overcomes lament. Our lacking of what we need in the face of God’s abundance is representative of our failure to acknowledge fully the power of God to assist us in overcoming all of our struggles. Conventional wisdom alone will not make us the church. A Book of Order alone will not make us the church. A judicial process alone will not make us a church. More money alone will not make us a church. All of these things can do something for us, but they can’t do what the Lord will do. …