Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It is easier to find three “wise guys” than three “wise men”

Three magi (affectionately called “wise men”) undertook a long journey to see the newborn king of the Jews. Personally, I kind of like calling them “wise men.” They were similar to today’s “seekers.” They were honestly searching for truth and meaning. They read the writings from many religions. They connected their observations of the sky with the ancient Jewish writings and were willing to undertake a difficult journey to see this new king.

This weekend I will be preaching on The Hope of the Wise Men. The first Sunday of Advent I preached on The Faith of Mary—we had two young ladies light the Advent candle. The second Sunday of Advent I preached on The Courage of Joseph—we had two young men light the Advent candles. Leaving the sanctuary I heard someone saying, “Pastor Lance is going to have a hard time finding Advent candle lighters for next Sunday—he needs to find three wise men!” That got me to thinking…

Am I wise man? Are there many wise men in my congregation? Does the PCUSA have many wise men in it?

Let me begin by assessing if I am a wise man. The words of John in Revelation 2 speak powerfully,

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:2-5)

Most Christians would agree that the church at Ephesus had fewer problems than most of the first century churches. Yet, the words of Revelation deal harshly with the church at Ephesus. Their faith was cooling off. This causes me to wonder if my faith is cooling off. A new convert sees things in black and white and has to make decisions about all aspects of their life. The sense of “new life in Christ” is fresh and real. I remember that time in my life. Here’s the problem… am I willing to pay the price today for my faith that I paid back then? I was willing to leave the Presbyterian Church back then due to issues of baptism and spiritual gifts. Fortunately I belonged to a church that allowed for dedication of infants/believer baptisms and all of the spiritual gifts were recognized as available today. Would I be willing to leave the PCUSA today? Have I become like the Ephesian church? If the Presbyterian Church of yesterday was like the Presbyterian Church of today I would not be Presbyterian today!

One of the blogs I follow is called Truth in Love Network. On October 25th Kevin wrote that he had renounced jurisdiction of the PCUSA and was no longer an elder in the PCUSA. He knows what scripture says about Christianity and was no longer able to reconcile scripture with the current PCUSA. In my opinion Kevin is wise! He is not willing to compromise scripture for an earthly denomination—remember, denominations are not mentioned in scripture! Would I be willing to leave the PCUSA? My heart says, “Yes.” My earthly side is not so sure! Thus, I wonder if I am a “wise man?” I guess that I won’t be lighting the Advent candles this weekend.

That brings me to the men of my church. How many of those men are “wise.” Many of the guys are growing in their faith! Praise God. Yet, over and over again I see the men just “go with the flow.” I don’t see these men look critically at our church or the denomination. Most men are not the spiritual leaders of the household. There are a few “wise men” at our church.

Are there many “wise men” in the PCUSA structure? It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. That description reminds me of the PCUSA. At our last session meeting I brought up the idea of withholding General Assembly per capita and giving it to Presbyterian missions. One member of session in involved at the GA level and said that the staff at GA has gotten the message that churches are fed up and angry at the direction of the PCUSA. Be that as it may, I have yet to see any visible difference in what comes out of our denomination! The Stated Clerk is quick to send out letters telling the Presbyteries that we cannot adopt resolutions concerning ordination requirements and yet there has been no letter to denouncing those presbyteries seeking to ordain practicing, non-celibate GLBT persons. Our current moderator is talking good words about needing to do things differently yet I hear nothing from the GAC or the Stated Clerk. The deck chairs have just been rearranged on the deck of the Presbyterian Titanic. It doesn’t seem to wise to me.

Maybe this Sunday we will leave the Advent candles unlit. This could serve as a wake-up-call to the men of the church. Honestly, I don’t have the courage to take such a step. See… now you know why I wonder if I am a “wise man.”


At 10:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for this powerful reflection!

None of us has the courage to do what is needed, if left to ourselves.

But the time is coming when our Lord will call his faithful to make our decision and join him on the path that leads away from the PCUSA. In that hour, "if we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing".

He will give us the strength to do what we must. For He will not lose any that the Father has given him.(John 6:39)

We'll get through the Red Sea, out of slavery and into freedom, together. Not because we are wise men, but because we serve the Wise Man!

And in the meantime, I pray that none of us will bow our knee to Baal.


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