Moderator’s Musings – March 2020
The Reverend Shelia O’Mara’s “Moderator’s Musings” appears monthly in the print edition of the Cumberland Presbyterian Magazine. Sadly, no installment appeared in the March 2020 issue. Probably, this was entirely the fault of the magazine not the moderator. We present her column here with our apologies.
My husband and I worship at the Dyersburg, Tennessee, Cumberland Presbyterian Church. During the month of January, our pastor, the Reverend Dr. Cory Williams, began a series based on the lectionary gospel readings in Matthew entitled “Gifts that Keep on Giving” (Discovering the gifts that God offers-and the challenge to accept them). On the third Sunday after Epiphany the gospel lesson was from Matthew 4: 12-23 (John the Baptist had been arrested, Jesus went to Capernaum and began preaching. It was here that he began to call the disciples). The sermon, “The Gift of Bold Action” is one that I have reflected upon as I think about the CPC, particularly as the denominational day of Pray, Fast, Act is approaching as I write this article.
Here are some of the takeaways from Cory’s sermon that grabbed my attention. Boldness is being willing to do something no one else is doing and by its very nature is risk taking. Who truly knows what it meant for the disciples to leave behind the lives they knew and follow Jesus? Being bold for Jesus meant being courageous; going places they had never been before and knew and understood to that which was unknown and not understood. Cory used a phrase “Holy Boldness.” That stuck with me. It’s that still small voice of God that calls us and invites us to be willing to act when that voice speaks and says, “stop doing that, put that down and pick up this instead.” Powerful words.
During the month of January, the nation observed the Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK JR) holiday. MLK JR was certainly someone who lived a life of “Holy Boldness”. Here are some quotes from him that illustrate bold action.
-Social transformation: “There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” (Letter from Birmingham Jail, 4-16-63).
-Church and State relations: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” (A Knock at Midnight, 06-11-67).
– “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
-“I imagine that the first question the priest and the Levite asked was ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me” But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him? The good Samaritan engaged in a dangerous altruism.”
Powerful words from a man who was called, answered the call, took bold action, and knew the cost/sacrifice he would pay (and did).
Also, on my mind as I write is the 210th birthday of the CPC. Three expelled Presbyterian ministers (McAdow, Ewing, and King) from the dissolved Cumberland Presbytery met for a time of prayer to discern God’s guidance. There is historical evidence to suggest the founders did not intend the split to be permanent and didn’t anticipate a long-standing separate denomination. The still small voice of God spoke to them and called them, resulting in a new denomination that rose to minister to the spiritual needs of a pioneer people to embrace the “Whosoever Will” gospel of the new church (taken from Wikipedia). Powerful words spoken and bold action taken. Gifts that keep on giving today.
So, what’s the bottom line with my musings for this month? I invite each of us to reflect on to what “Holy Boldness” God is calling us as individuals, a CP church, CP presbytery, or the global CPC to respond. I am expecting God through our denominational day of Pray, Fast, Act to call us as the church and disciples of Jesus to a life and witness of “Holy Boldness”. My prayer for us all is that we hear and respond to that still, small voice.
Until next month, I invite you to seek ways to be open to the Holy Spirit engaging your community, attempt great things for God and expect great things of God.
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Download the March 2020 issue: https://www.cumberland.org/resources/#!/March-2020-Cumberland-Presbyterian-Magazine-Download/p/181402157/category=42194617