Sermon Series “Identity Check

Six week series on what it means to be a Presbyterian

Video MessageResources
Week 1:
How to Read the Bible Like a Presbyterian
Monday Memo notes

– Honest piece about admissions we need to make about scripture, from a leading Christian periodical for 20-30 year olds: Five Things I Wish Christians Would Admit About the Bible
– Two pieces on the Bible from the PCUSA’s Mission Agency: 
Presbyterian Mission Agency Biblical Interpretation
  Presbyterian Mission Agency The Bible — The Living Word
– A longer piece by the great contemporary biblical scholar N. T. Wright in which he discusses the Bible as an unfolding five act play: N.T. Wright on Scripture and the Authority of God
Week 2:
Sovereign Love Outweighs Human Fallibility
Monday Memo notes

1) Some scripture reading this week: 
– On universal human sin, how we’re all caught up in it, and the extent to which it takes away the power of choice –
Eph 4.17-19 NRSV
Rom 3.9-20 NRSV
 – On the God who is love, from whom our love from each other flows –
  1 John 4.7-21 NRSV
2) A beautiful piece of what we can learn about God’s love from two spiritual giants – Thomas Merton and St. Teresa of Avila: 
Own Your Poverty: Thomas Merton on Understanding God’s Love for You
3) A prayer to use throughout the week:
Rev. Dr. Terri Pilarski (Christ Episcopal Church, Dearborn, MI)
“Holy God, before time You named us. Through time You redeem us and call us precious in Your sight. May we love as You love.
Through the stormy waters of life, let Your hands hold tightly to ours, for we are fragile and weak. May we love as You love.
Remove the deafness of our lives that keeps us from hearing and following the call of Your justice and mercy. May we love as You love.
Today and this week, remove our fears and distractions, so that we might feed both neighbors and strangers with Your grace.
So I ask once again, may we love as You love, amen.”
Week 3:
Interview with PEVA General Presbyter, Liza Hendricks
Monday Memo notes

This excerpt from a recent piece in The Presbyterian Outlook, written by Rev. Jen Brothers, a PCUSA pastor and licensed therapist, syncs with some of what Liza told us: 
“…Sometimes resistance to change is blessedly futile. Sometimes the forces of change are so intense, so inevitable, that we have no choice but to roll with the tide even though we have no idea where the wave will take us. As a society, and as people who follow Jesus, we are in such a moment.
I don’t know if Christians are more resistant to change or less resistant. I suspect we are like any other group that forms around a set of ideas, principles and values. We are deeply invested in preserving our sense of who God is, who we are and the work we are here to do. Thus, we are quick to oppose anything we perceive as a threat to our beliefs, our practices and our institutions.
From a theological perspective, I find this resistance to change perplexing. Scripture is full of stories where people are asked to change their minds. Sometimes even God changes God’s mind (Exodus 32:14; Jonah 3:10). If our goal is to become a new creation – If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come (2 Corinthians 5:17) – then any time we can absorb a new perspective or expand our borders of understanding we take a step in the right direction.”
Week 4:
Royal Priesthood: A Bold Claim
Monday Memo notes

Here a few ways to explore more –
1) Two short articles explaining and applying it from the Presbyterian Mission Agency –
Presbyterian Mission Agency Priesthood of Believers
Presbyterian Mission Agency What ‘the priesthood of all believers’ looks like 
2) Scripture reading – Malachi 1.6-14. Though it’s about the priests in Israel in the late Old Testament era, consider what it might be saying to us, who are a part of the priesthood of all believers: Malachi 1.6-14 NRSV
Week 5:
Reformed, and Always Being Reformed
Monday Memo notes

Here are two shorter, accessible articles from the PCUSA’s Mission Agency about that maxim, “The church is reformed, and always being reformed”…you’ll note that Pastor Chris drew some of yesterday’s material from both – 
Presbyterian Mission Agency Reformed and Always Being Reformed
  Presbyterian Mission Agency Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda  
Every day this week, take a moment and slowly pray what follows (we ended the service with it yesterday…so succinct and powerful): 
  “Good God, convert the world. Begin with me, amen.” (From the church in China)
Week 6:
God Alone is Lord of the Conscience
Monday Memo notes

1) This is a good week for some Bible reading – the New Testament has a whole lot to say about the divisiveness between dissimilar Christians, and how the peace of Christ can prevail among them.  
– Read Romans 14 in its entirety: Rom 14 NRSV
– Read 1st Corinthians 8 (and the last section of 10), another lengthy conversation about the same topic as Rom. 14:   1 cor 8 NRSV and 1 cor 10.23-33 NRSV
2) A short article from the PCUSA on that foundational principle, “God alone is the Lord of the conscience” – Presbyterian Mission Agency Lord of the Conscience
3) We shared this article a month or so ago, but since Pastor Chris cited it at the end of the sermon yesterday, here it is again…though it is focused on political polarization in the pews, its ideas sync up with Romans 14 and are applicable to other controversial, divisive issues in the church too –   When Polarization Hits the Pews