So, I was welcomed into the presbytery.

Anywho. Everyone who passes examination comes back to the room or hall – this time a sanctuary – to applause. It’s a nice gesture, a welcoming act by those who hold gate-keeping power and have just heard you share your heart, and a wonderful way to enter the next phase of ministry.

I was actually thrown a little off guard at the beginning of the examination. I knew I would be asked to share a favorite scripture from the Bible and it’s importance to me. As the first of 4 people to be examined however, I assumed this meant the question would be offered to me after I read my Statement of Faith, which typically is the norm (you can find my SoF on  yesterday’s blogpost). No, answering the scripture question was the starting point of the examination, not just a kick off to the formal opportunity for Q&A. Three folks asked me questions, based on their reading prior my Statement, and although that time is now a blur to me, they were really softball questions. Like tell us about how your prior church relationships have influenced you as an Evangelist (that one I remember. See: slow pitch, down the plate). As I told someone afterwards, I hardly hit them out of the infield.

Still, however, kind of a big deal.


Kind of a Big Deal

No, not me. Well at least not anymore than anyone else.

This evening one section of my spiritual and vocational journey meets a signpost. After several years preparing for ministry in my chosen (or has it chosen me?) church – Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) – and after many meetings, conversations, tests, classes, internships, and an unexpected end around with missional community and The WordHouse instead of a traditional pastor job, I am being called to be an Evangelist for the Sacramento Presbytery. And tonight I read my Statement of Faith and enter one last “examination” to be welcomed into the local governing body as a member, and subsequently, be free and clear – and so ordered – to be ordained.

I will be sharing an important scripture verse and its importance to me (Phil 2:5 – one of the most challenging and comforting passages) after I read my current faith statement:

I believe God is three-in-one: a community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is unified; God is one. God has specifically and sufficiently revealed God’s self in the Old and New Testaments. These Scriptures bear witness to God’s truth in the life and person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ, the self-revealing Word of God, is still breaking into our world through the Holy Spirit and therefore his Church, inviting people to find themselves in God’s story, as witnessed by the Reformed Confessions and Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
I believe in God the Father. God is creator, ruler, and sustainer of all, even me. God’s love is all around; I am created, as well as all of humanity, in God’s image. In God there is wholeness, completeness. All of creation is good. The earth and everything in it bears witness to God. However, there is still a deep fissure inside of all humanity. This crack is often described as sin. Sin does not rightly acknowledge God’s sovereignty, warping and misconstruing God’s good and wonderful creation. Yet, like the woman who searches after lost treasure and finds it, God seeks, finds, and proclaims we have value. God is the heavenly parent who providentially leads us beside still waters, who renews and guides us in righteousness for God’s namesake. God is greater than everything in and beyond the earth; God is too great for words. And yet, God can be known.
I believe in God the Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus was sent by God and as the Son of Man is one of us, and yet as the Son of God is not like us. Through God’s gracious initiative, baptism, in Christ we have new life. His life becomes ours. The waters at baptism represent Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan in which God said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” We hear the same voice proclaim over us that we are God’s child, that God is also well pleased with us. Through the Lord’s Supper, God’s covenantal meal, we are reminded of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for us all. When we eat the bread and drink the cup we can experience his forgiveness and the grace displayed on the cross. Through Jesus’ death we die; and through his resurrection we are raised to new life. Jesus saves us from harm and saves us to the good work of God’s kingdom. Through his love – through Jesus himself – we are reconciled to God and have a way to be reconciled with one another. At the table of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, we are nourished and have a foretaste of what is to come – life everlasting. We pray for his return to finally bring everything to complete fruition through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I believe in God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in all and through all. The Spirit is everywhere and meets us in the darkest places. The Spirit prays for us. In prayer the Spirit enables us to know God’s word and move our hearts and renew our minds. The Spirit empowers us to live the way Jesus did, to be Christ-like. We are enabled then to honor God, to do what is required: to be just, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God—to follow the law of Christ. This law reveals our shortcomings and shows us how to live, even gratefully, as a community. The Spirit gives God’s gifts to God’s people, the Church, to further God’s reign in this needy world. Jesus is the head of the Church, the body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit leads the Church in its mission: to do the will of God. The Spirit desires for all to enter into God’s abundant life and freedom, now and forever and ever. Amen.

With a nudge to Adam Walker Cleaveland, I end with this: #welcomejeff