Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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20 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay wrestle out loud as we work to fully comprehend what Jesus taught. Truth is what he taught, but how can we translate that in the world we live in and the lives we live is the challenge," said Megan Collins. "We start with the Gospels and Scripture and we live into the theology — we make theology live." Tip: You don't need a podcast to get conversations going. Hold a sermon "talk back" on Sundays, inviting people to delve more deeply into the Scripture lesson and to share what they heard, agreed with or disagreed with. The promotion of social righteousness In 2012, as the Church in the Tetons in Driggs, Idaho, was opening its doors, Monica Carrillo was approved to stay in the U.S. through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She received a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deporta- tion and got a work permit and a driver's license. She joined the local Family Safety Network, where she met the director of client services and outreach, Emily Bilcher — who is also the wife of the Church in the Tetons' pastor. Through her friend- ship with Emily Bilcher at work, and then the Rev. Karlin Bilcher, her life opened. And, through Carrillo, the Bilchers gained insight into the lives of undocumented immigrants. They began showing up at community meetings on immigration issues. When the local Hispanic Resource Center brought in a lawyer from Salt Lake City to help immigrants fill out paperwork right after the 2016 presi- dential election, the Bilchers noticed that other people from the church were there. They recruited a few members to help start a new ministry at the church. Based on hospitality and welcoming strangers, the ministry was called "radical neighboring," and the Bilchers invited Carrillo to opportunities by teaming older members of the congregation with children. Hold special mentoring activities such as sharing stories over ice cream. Encourage young and old to pray for each other and even write letters to one another. Yes, write — not email. The maintenance of divine worship Shortly after the Rev. Karen Ware Jackson came to Faith Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, eight of the church's elderly members passed away. Two pews had to be removed to make space for a casket; the pews were never reinstalled. Instead, Jackson saw an opportunity. "The Holy Spirit was moving and creating space for a 'pray- ground' for young children," she said. Re-creating the open space with a table in front of the pulpit became a way to embrace cross-gen- erational worship. Through Jackson's blogs, one-on-one conversations and sermons that focused on "worship with all ages," the church got the message. "The little church made space for God to bring new life out of death," Jackson said. While she preaches, the children are gathered around the table, guided through the service with prayers and activities. As the Scriptures are being interpreted, the children interpret what they hear with Play-Doh, drawings, Legos, feathers or glitter. "What we do isn't just for the kids; it's for us all," Jackson said. "The prayground is making us whole. We are the body of Christ. Kids are a loud and messy part of the body, but when we pull the kids out of worship, it's like we are dismembering the body, like trying to worship blind- folded. Kids are distracting, yes, but they bring us life and they bring us joy, and they bring surprising depth and mirth. They understand the holy power of prayer and praise. They are hungry for God." Tip: If a prayground is too much, too soon for your congregation, ask session members, worship leaders and/or educational leaders how children can be creatively integrated into worship. Begin the conversation this fall and see where it leads. The preservation of the truth Megan and David Collins host a podcast called "Everything Jesus Taught" about exactly that — what Jesus taught about God, life, forgiveness, money, family and the way his teachings are to inform the way we live out our faith in the 21st century. As co-pastors of Maitland Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida, they take the pulpit to the public by way of the podcast. Through their conversational approach, they work together to discern what is truth and how to find it. Often using real-life humor, the two discuss and sometimes disagree about how to understand a particu- lar teaching. "Truth isn't something we receive," said David Collins. "We have to interact with it, talk about it, digest it, parse out how it works in our lives, not just give it intellectual ascent. That's how truth bears fruit in our lives." Discerning between what is cultural in the Scriptures and what is theological is one of the most dif- ficult tasks for the church today. As these two pastors reason together, they invite the wider world into a deeper dialogue with others and within oneself. "The podcast is unedited. We

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