Lenten Reflections, Issue 104

February 22, 2017 by Presbyterian Foundation

Witherspoon Press offers a series of “Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar” for use throughout the PC(USA) this year. The following reflection (Reprinted with permission.) by Ian McMullen of Maxwell, Iowa, reflects on Belhar’s statement, “We believe that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right.” (Reprinted by permission.)

Two-year-old Ruthie and her father were enjoying a morning outing at the local donut shop. At the adjacent table, kids were being unruly and their mother’s voice was tense. “She’s frustrated,” Ruthie told her father, referring to the frazzled mom. Finally, the situation at the next table reached critical mass and the mom lost it – loudly.

Ruthie turned in her chair and declared, “No shouting! That’s a sad choice!” And with that, she turned back to her dad who was frozen in awkward silence – as was the rest of the donut shop crowd.

Ruthie’s reprimand brought one of those none-of-my-business problems to the forefront which left everyone uncomfortable – everyone except Ruthie. She was not embarrassed and didn’t care about optics. She had been taught well and her response came naturally. And her timing was just right.

Micah’s prophecy against wayward Israelites called them back to God when they had strayed. The writers of Belhar challenged global apathy and called out apartheid when it was the law of the land. And while we were yet sinners, Jesus was sent into the world that we might be saved (Romans 5:8).

K. Chesterton famously said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” As such, we usually retreat into judgment instead of mercy, and indifference instead of justice. We are happy to prescribe Micah’s prophecy to others rather than to learn it and act accordingly. God created us for connectional living; and those connections cannot thrive when we stay silent in the face of evil and injustice. God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and right – and to do it now.

Lent is a time of preparation and reflection of Christ’s sacrifice, an act which leads us to change our apathetic ways and, like Ruthie, immediately insert ourselves into situations and relationships that need justice, mercy, and love.

Featured Ministry: American Memorial Church

As the world begins to commemorate the centennial of the First World War, Presbyterians can look to the American Memorial Church as a living witness to the hope of Jesus Christ built in the rubble of that conflict. It is a beautiful edifice of stone and glass built in memory of the US soldiers and marines who were killed in the area in World War One. Yet it is also the home of an active congregation, a place where families have gathered for weekly worship for generations.