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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Thursday, January 13 2022

 

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

-John 17:20-23

 

“[We believe] that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people in groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted…”

Belhar Confession (from 10.3)

 

What a profound statement. As we prepare to install our new elders each January, we review the Presbyterian Book of Confessions, our guiding theological principles and tradition. The newest one was adopted quite recently, though written in South Africa during apartheid. Not only was it the first to be adopted that was written outside of Europe, it said something new and very important. It went one step farther than previous confessions that named the sin of racism. It reminded us that the very separation we choose in being apart from those who are different is a sin. Even our own secular courts of law had long ago determined we couldn’t allow “separate but equal” because human nature never allowed for equal experiences of those separated and put apart. This was a theological affirmation that people cannot choose to divide themselves without sinning. That chosen separation of comfort was the sin of excluding part of the image of God. God said so in Scripture.

 

Our scripture and confessions affirm that ALL people are made in God’s image. To choose that separation is to say that part of God’s image, part of God’s people, the experiences, gifts, and contributions of God’s people are unworthy or unwanted. When we choose to always be separate in neighborhoods, celebrations, and worship, we choose distance, division, and sin. When we choose not to form relationships, to exclude people, and to ignore their history, experiences, and perspectives, we sin. Belhar named this. And so do we.

 

This Monday, we will as a nation and as a church, mark the day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Just as the marking of Christmas and Easter for believers, just as the marking of Memorial and Veterans Day for American citizens, we mark this day to remind us of the good done and the calling we have to honor the love and sacrifice of those who came before us. These days remind us of the saints God has given us to show the way. If you’ve not read the Belhar Confession, I would ask you to read it this weekend or on Monday. If you’ve not read his I have a Dream speech, I would ask you to read that. And if you’ve done both, or would like more, read something new from the Rev. Dr. King Jr. I recommend Letter from Birmingham Jail. And I recommend rereading the portions of Scripture referenced in Belhar. We are called as disciples to learn and grow. Let’s use the day in such a way.

 

Confession of Belhar: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/belhar-confession/

 

Letter from Birmingham Jail: https://www.csuchico.edu/iege/_assets/documents/susi-letter-from-birmingham-jail.pdf

Prayer for Today

Lord, we give thanks that you were and are a teacher and that you have always sent prophets, preachers, and teachers to lead the way and lend your light. Make me a good student and a better disciple in my learning and loving. Amen.

Posted by: AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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