what comes to mind first is something I've learned to appreciate by being
married for 12 years to a lifelong Quaker. The Quakers believe there
is that of God in everyone. That means that I must approach every human
being with respect – especially those with whom we are likely to disagree
or those of whom we might be afraid. This is pretty tough work, both
in the Church and out.
- Mission through Partnership The Church must be
at work in a hurting world. One of the best ways I've found to do that
is through our Presbyterian commitment to Mission through partnership.
Mission through partnership is scary and it takes some courage, because
it's all about building relationships in which I, as well as my counterpart,
might be changed. It is a constant, somewhat uncomfortable possibility
that God might surprise me.
- Stop the violence In the post-September 11, 2001
world, the Church and the challenge of Christ's uncompromising demand
that we love our enemy has never been more necessary than it is right
now. Nonviolence as a way of life will take huge courage, both in our
everyday lives, as a Church, and as a nation.
- Bring on the next generation Our Church's future
depends largely on members who commit to working in the world in a
way that is meaningful and that costs something. Jesus was a young
upstart who was not welcomed by the religious authorities of his own
time. We need to welcome young people into the leadership of our churches,
and accept the challenges they put before us.
- Let's be leaders in building the global community How
we build a global community to match the global economy will be the
defining challenge for our Church for the next several generations.
An economy that is built on desperation and poverty for eighty percent
of the world's population - in order to provide in abundance for the
remaining twenty percent - is obscene, and it will not work. Jesus
certainly had something to say about empire economics in his own time,
and our Church must have the courage to do the same in our time.
When I think about Matthew 25 and the story of how God
will judge all the nations on how they cared for Jesus, for the "least
of these" in their midst, I think especially of the situation for migrants
in our world today. As our country affirms trade agreements which force
third world farmers off their land and into a desperate search for employment
to support their families, we create a steady flow of undocumented migrants
who risk starvation, thirst, and even death as they attempt to cross
the border. They have nothing, are part of no community, have no significant
legal rights, and are easy prey for those who would take advantage of
them. Symbolically, seeing Jesus in the face of each migrant has the
potential to transform our church and our world in ways that only God
Finally, my mentor Jim Corbett used to say that "individuals
can resist injustice, but it takes community to do justice." This is
the heart of why we must do this work as Church. Together, as we listen
carefully to one another and strengthen one another's ideas and commitment,
we can do God's work in the world.