Monday, June 25, 2007

PROLEGOMENA: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Sunday, June 24, 2007

A few weeks ago, in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times, there was an article that described how one man single-handedly changed the Lower East Side.

Now the Lower East Side when I was a kid was a neighborhood in steep decline. And the only reason you’d find yourself down there was to get a pastrami on rye from Katz’s Deli on Houston Street (pronounced House-ton; not pronounced like the city in Texas).

But Sion Mishrahi has found a way to breathe new life into that community. He has single-handedly restored the things that were once broken; he has brought beauty to a place where beauty was once hard to find; and he has given new hope to a community that once felt abandoned by the powers that be in the city. Sound familiar?

It should! Because this story is merely a faint echo of the story that the Bible tells us.

You see, the God we come to worship this morning; the God we come to sing praises to has also brought restoration and new life to a community--except this community is not defined by geography, but by those who believe in the death and resurrection of the Son of God.

So, are you ready to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the renewer and restorer of all things? Welcome to worship!

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Wishy Washy PCA!

I think that it's about time for me to chime in with my two cents (sorry for the mixed metaphor) on the happenings at the PCA General Assembly. For the most part, I'm discouraged by the outcome and here's the reason why.

The adoption of the FV/NPP study committee's report has and will complicate matters more. It adds another layer of hermeneutical confusion to the discussion. That is to say (and following David Coffin), we already have a Confession to lead us through matters of controversy. We don't need another document thrown in the mix. Moreover, how the document is handled and interpreted (from this point forward) will become a matter of debate in the coming months. Take the first recommendation for example:

"That the General Assembly commend to Ruling and Teaching Elders and their congregations this report of the Ad Interim Committee on NPP, AAT and FV for careful consideration and study" (my italics).

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this: whose idea of "careful consideration and study" are we following? Some presbyteries and pastors could respond, "We considered it, thank you, but no thank you." Why is this a fair response? (1) Because the document is NOT constitutionally binding; and (2) Because as the study report even reminds us, it is still up to the presbyteries to decipher the document and apply it.

All this document did was make our denominational stance on the issue more WISHY WASHY! We should have followed the lead of Joe Novenson and added a year and exegetical teeth to the paper.

Monday, June 11, 2007

No Pepper in the Salt of the PCA!

As I plan to leave for another General Assembly of the PCA, I am reminded of the horror I experienced last year when I walked into the convention hall for the first time. Out of the 1800 or so commissioners on the floor of GA, you could literally count the number of African-American ministers in the denomination.

Now that Redeemer has one of the thirty-three Blacks in the denomination (Rev. Mark Robinson), I have found myself growing more sensitive to this issue. I am looking forward to seeing old friends; I am looking forward to debating the FV/NPP issue; I am NOT, however, looking forward to seeing the lack of diversity in this denomination once again! Therefore, it is my opinion that the PCA has to make a concerted effort to recruit Black ministers in the denomination and get FAR beyond the number 33! Or to put it bluntly: 33 African-American ministers out of roughly 2000 is something we should all be ashamed of! Talk about inequity!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Not a Shoe-In:
Proponents of the NPP and FV Study Report Respond with Their Own Open Letter

Probably fueled by the fear that the PCA's study report on the New Perspective and the Federal Vision was loosing steam and not gaining momentum among commissioners in the denomination, eight ministers and one ruling elder have responded to a handful of open letters with their own open letter. The initial open letters (one which is published on this blog and another which is published here) which caused this reaction reminded their readers of the necessity of fairness with regard to committee member selection, timeliness in handling sensitive matters such as these, and previously established norms (i.e., good faith subscription).

What may have caused the elevated anxiety of those associated with the newest open letter which supports the committee's report might be the outcry of injustice that many moderate commissioners have voiced in the blog-o-sphere. Furthermore, a recent poll has suggested that the vast majority of people tracking along with this issue DO NOT support the paper's adoption this year on the floor of GA. Lastly, Joel Garver has chimed in with a handful of thoughtful concerns about the committee's report on his blog.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Covenant Faithfulness of YHWH in the Skies of Harlem!

Two Sundays ago I awoke to be reminded of God's covenant faithfulness. God even reminds New Yorkers of his fidelity!

"Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’"

--Genesis 9:11-17 (NRSV)

Monday, June 04, 2007

PROLEGOMENA: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Sunday, June 3, 2007

I like to prepare us for worship this evening by talking a little about love. Now, would it seem odd to you if I told you that my daughter Hannah--who’s only three years old--knows something about love, that you and I have either forgotten or never learned? I mean, if I were to ask you, how much does your husband or wife, or boyfriend or girlfriend, or your mom and dad love you, how would you answer? You’d probably answer like this: “They love me very much;” or “They love me a lot;” or “They love me a great deal;” or you might even say, “They love me with all my heart.” But my daughter Hannah tells me that she loves me “As big as the stars.”

Now, what’s interesting about her answer is that she attaches a spatial significance to love. In other words, she understands the stars as infinitely removed from us here on earth. And the space between us and them, is the amount of love she has for me.

Now, to you or I that may sound a little silly and 3 year-old-ish, but let me suggest that Hannah’s description of love is very similar to the apostle Paul’s.

In Ephesians 3 Paul describes the love of Christ in this way: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

So, are you ready to worship the God who loves you, to quote my daughter Hannah, “As big as the stars?” Welcome to worship!