Back to School

22104799_891923824316345_2666990352519472468_o-1The season of fall always reminds me of going back to school, though it has been more than a few decades since I was ‘officially’ a student. But we as a presbytery see ourselves as being a ‘learning community’ – so, in a sense, perhaps we should always be ‘going back to school’ as we do faith and life together.

With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve been learning recently, thanks to being on this journey with you:

— Christianity is no longer European-centric. This is probably not ‘news’ for most of us, but at our last Presbytery Gathering Professor Rah helped us see it clearly. He reminded us that China alone has more Christians than any other nation with estimates of 300 million, and that most children in U.S. kindergartens these days are not of European decent. What does this mean for us as the Presbytery of Los Ranchos as we seek to pass on our faith to the next generation? Are we able to ‘see’ this in our own midst? Or, are we too accustomed to the lenses with which we have been viewing ourselves for the past 50 years? Watch more

— How are we, as American Christians, held captive by our culture? What are the things we hold to be ‘self-evident’ that are, in fact, not so? One question that challenged me during our discussion with Professor Rah was, ‘Might it be possible to teach culturally ‘irreligious’ people (the fastest growing demographic group in the world according to recent Pew Research Center study) to follow Jesus, while remaining harmoniously and constructively engaged in their own community?’ Just thinking about that blows my mind. Read more

— Many of us are tired – we are juggling ministry and church obligations, family, the crisis of our local communities and our world – how do we find rest and refreshment, how do we continue to center ourselves in the God we love, in such times? Laurie Ferguson, who will be our speaker at this year’s pastors’ retreat will address just this – what are the practices that we can use to ground ourselves in the midst of our overly busy lives? Read more

— If we see that we have something to offer, we can offer it to each other. Last week, I had the chance to participate with Canyon Hills Presbyterian Church in an evening to support the Ubumwe Community Center in Rwanda. This relationship came about because Canyon Hills member Malia Lewis went to Rwanda to help gorillas and instead wound up meeting Frederick, a man with no hands who is ‘changing the world’ despite being brutally attacked and mutilated during the Rwandan Genocide. Read more

— What does the fourth item in this list have to do with the previous three? It is simply this – our response to the ‘threat’ of our changing world (which is likely to be as much opportunity as it threat, if we have eyes to see) is to be the ones who ‘have something to offer’ our hurting, changing, inviting, dynamic world. Because we follow, and are empowered by, the Risen Christ, it is our passion, our joy, our vision, and our love that can become contagious. Perhaps in seeking our neighbor’s flourishing, we will find our own as well.

Even though I liked recess and physical education as much as any of my classes in school, I also loved—and still love—to learn. Being with you inspires me to keep learning, keep growing, and keep offering my best to Christ. I’m grateful to be in a Reformed community with you where learning is a treasured endeavor, one that leads to greater faithfulness and witness to God’s redeeming work in the world.

With you on the journey,

Tom

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