June 23, 2009

Presbyterian Gifts

Rooted in Tradition ...

Christ alone is head of the church, and his example is one of service. Church leadership is spread around so that Christ alone is lifted up and honored in all matters.

Salvation is not an end unto itself, nor merely a matter of eternal destiny, but also a calling to humble service and loving stewardship in the here and now.

Baptism, not ordination, is the marker for ministry. All of God’s people are called to love the Lord their God, love neighbor as self, and to practice faith, hope, and love.

We ordain some to three offices needed to nourish, guide, and serve the church in its common ministry. Pastors, Elders, and Deacons exist not for their own sake, but to provide for the ministry of all God’s people in the world.

As the Jesuits have done within the Roman Catholic tradition, so Presbyterians have blessed the Protestant churches with gifts of acumen and learning, with a “faith seeking understanding.” Faith is more than intelligence, but it includes intelligence.

“The great ends of the church are the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”

Growing in faith …

We are a Christian tradition reformed from the excesses of the medieval church, and in every subsequent era we are always subject to reformation according to the word of God.

Scripture and Sacraments are the primary means by which God forms and reforms us as faithful people. These are fundamental, and all other elements of worship are in service to them.

Though there is fruit in it for us, worship is foremost about the living God.

While our officers vow to be stewards of Reformed-Presbyterian way, no one is excluded from membership in the body of believers for any other reason peripheral to faith in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, to be Presbyterian is to be ecumenical.

One generation of believers passes on to the next its better interpretations of scripture (in confessions and creeds), but those interpretations are never equated with scripture.

"In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God's new heaven and new earth.”