If anything like the Christian story is in fact true (in other words, if there is a God whom we can know…)….if there is any kind of divine force or being, it is at least thinkable that humans would find some kind of engagement with this being or power to be an attractive or at least interesting phenomenon.
This is precisely why there are such things as religions in the first place. When astronomers see that a plant is behaving in a way they can’t explain by reference to other already known planets, or to the sun itself, they postulate a further planet of a sort, size, and location that will explain the strange behavior.. That’s actually how remoter planets were discovered. - N.T. Wright
Together in Christ,
The writer, Kurt Vonnegut, from my home state of Indiana, had two terms to identify the nature of two distinct kinds of groups. A “granfalloon” is an artificial group. We are a member of a granfalloon if we imply intimacy within a group of people in which there is no real connection. Even my saying that Vonnegut and I are Hoosiers is a granfalloon – just because we were born in Indiana doesn’t mean we are actually connected. His second term was “karass.” A karass is unique. It is a group of people who are linked in a deeply spiritual and even significant way. A granfalloon is a false karass.
Churches can either be a granfalloon or a karass. Sometimes the connections people have with one another in churches are superficial. Other times the connections people have in church are so special we would call them the “Body of Christ.” The Body of Christ is a not a collection of people who think alike, but they are a group of people who practice all the elements of a community of faith. They love. They forgive. They tolerate one another. They even bear one another when things get difficult.
We are see the difference in what a church is to a person by the way a person responds to conflict. If people are willing to talk to one another and to sort out conflict; if they are willing to find a way to understand or at least forgive one another, then the church is a karass for them. If they leave the church when conflict arises. If they run away, odds are the church was a granfalloon.
Any church can be a karass. Any church can be the Body of Christ. If we are willing to show respect and talk to one another in times of conflict, we might just discover the presence of Christ himself. If we avoid a chance to resolve difficulties, we may miss Jesus altogether.
Peace to you,
“A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”
The Presbyterian Church was an unexpected offspring of a religious movement called “The Reformation.” Two of the leading Reformers of the time, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564), had no intention of forming a new church, at least not initially. Their desire was to reform the present day Catholic Church, to purge the Church of corruptions and set it more in line with the traditions and theology of Scripture and of the early church. The Reformers became known as “Protestants” because their requests for change sounded more and more like protests.
The Presbyterian Church is one of several churches that can trace their origins to the Reformation. Presbyterians get their name from the Greek word “presbuteros” which means “elder.” The term refers to the system, in apostolic times, of choosing leaders from among the wisest members of the church. A prominent doctrine of the Reformation was “the priesthood of all believers.” Reformed churches designed themselves in ways that gave more power to the congregation. The Presbyterians established a representative system where elders, presbyters and commissioners were elected.
The French organized the first congregation in 1555 and the French Huguenots were one of the first Presbyterians to reach America, followed closely by the English, Dutch, German, Irish and Scottish. In 1706 the first American presbytery was formed in Philadelphia and soon after the Synod of Philadelphia in 1716. 1789 marked the First General Assembly in Philadelphia.
The Church grew and diversified as it headed westward. By 1800 there were 20,000 members. In another thirty-seven years, there were 220,000. With the growth in numbers came an increase of conflict, separation and sometimes reunion. “Old School” and “New School” divisions plagued Presbyterians for years. The most infamous of issues was slavery. The Civil War severely divided the Church.
The next 120 years saw movements toward reunification. In 1958 the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) and the United Presbyterian Church of North America merged to form the Presbyterian Church in the United States of American (UPCUSA). In 1983 the two largest Presbyterian Churches united at the Atlanta General Assembly (G.A.): the southern-based Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) and the northern-based (UPCUSA). In 1985 the G.A. approved a seal for the new Church. There are some powerful images in the symbol which reveal what is important to us as Presbyterians. Today there are about 2,000,000 members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the largest of the mainline Presbyterian denominations.
“Unexpected” may seem like a good way to describe the beginnings of the Presbyterian Church. But for Presbyterians it has always been the “providence of God.”
Together in Christ,
The Legend of Incredible Vegtables: "A Lesson in Handling Fear"
6:30 p.m. - Fellowship Hall
Pizza, Popcorn, Drinks
All are welcome!!