CHARLOTTE, N.C. – During the morning worship service on March 5 at the NEXT Church conference, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C., Theresa Cho, pastor at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, read from Luke 4:14-21 using the practice of lectio divina, a method of reading, reflecting and meditating on Scripture.
Cho read the verses, paused for a time of reflection, then read the Scripture again.
She spoke of the earlier chapters in Luke, that tell the story from Jesus’ birth to baptism. Luke, Cho said, told of Jesus’ baptism in two verses:
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:21-22 ESV)
“In those two verses we know who Jesus is and whose Jesus is, and we are reminded who we are and whose we are,” she said.
Jesus’ genealogy comes next in the book of Luke, she said, and then “we get to today’s reading where we get Jesus’ call. This is Jesus’ PIF (A PIF, personal information form, is a very specific form that the Presbyterian Church (USA) produces for ministers seeking a call). … and the only reference on Jesus’ PIF is God.”
Cho said that what she loved about “the baptism and the connection to Christ’s human genealogy is this reminder is that we are not baptized as individuals, but we are baptized into a community — a community of ancestors that are linked to Christ.”
For those attending the NEXT Church conference, she said, “I think we have realized that we don’t quite know what is next. … What is next is different in whatever context you are in. God has created us uniquely different – our congregations are uniquely different.”
Cho said that what is next for a congregation of 30 might be different from a larger church.
She asked the attendees to look around the sanctuary. “I want you to see there are some faithful people in here. You have embarked on a journey much like Mary did, not knowing what the journey is leading to. … You are looking at a roomful of people who are saying, ‘What’s next?’ We have God’s faithfulness to rely on, and we have each other to move us forward.”
Cho was speaking at the NEXT Church conference, held March 4-5 in Charlotte. The mission of NEXT Church is to “foster relationships among God’s people: sparking imaginations; connecting congregations; offering a distinctively Presbyterian witness to Jesus Christ. Trusting in God’s sovereignty and grace, NEXT Church will engage the church that is becoming by cultivating vital connections, celebrating emerging leadership and innovation, and working with congregations and leaders to form and reform faith communities.”