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Of Wills Free and Bound

Whenever I lead a group of teenagers, somewhere over the course of the conversation, no matter the topic or scripture or theme of our time, someone asks the question about whether our will is free or bound.  It happened last night in our back home group at the Montreat Youth Conference.

Sometimes I just skirt the question because it feels like a tangent that derails the conversation.  Other times I try to entertain it and talk about the paradox that is human will in the Christian tradition.  I chose the latter last night.

We began with the idea that nothing happens outside of God’s will.  I asked the kids, “What does it say about God if everything that happens is God’s will?”  Eventually someone said, “Then God is the cause of all the bad things that happen in the world.”

Usually someone else jumps in with a purposeful idea of God’s providence (they don’t know that’s what their doing), “Maybe we just see something as evil or bad, but God has a plan for everything, so God is doing something good through the bad thing.”

And without fail, “If God has to cause tragedies or pain or suffering in order to do God’s good will, then God isn’t very good.  I’m not sure I want to worship that God.”

At this point I chimed in, “So while the understanding that God’s will orders all things affirms that God is in charge (God is sovereign), it brings into question God’s ultimate goodness because of the suffering we see around us.”

“So let’s consider the alternative.  Let’s say humans have free will and can act on our own outside of God’s control.”

And our bright young people reply, “Then that means that God isn’t very powerful and we are capable of thwarting God’s plans and designs.  In that case we can say that God is good but God isn’t powerful enough to bring about that goodness.  In this scenario we are sovereign.”

So is God sovereign but not good or good but not sovereign?

Perhaps this is where understanding the person and role of Jesus and his incarnation can help us understand both God’s goodness and God’s power.  We can say, by looking to Jesus and especially his willful death, that God chooses to limit God’s power by coming in human weakness and subjecting Godself to the depth of human suffering, that God is sovereign but that God makes a choice not to practice that reign as a harsh dictator.  A relationship is essential to God’s way of acting in the world.  The relationship is most important.  God chooses to partner with humanity (this isn’t just in Jesus, think about Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, Esther, Ruth, and on and on) in order to enact God’s purposes.

God invites us to be part of the creation of God’s goodness into the world.  God, who could rule without us, chooses to work with and through us to bring about God’s way in the world.  Does the Holy Spirit work within us causing us to choose to partner with God or do we freely make that decision?  As Presbyterians we tend to lean toward the Spirit’s work, but experientially it feels like a genuine decision on our part to move toward the God who has chosen to come so close to us in Jesus Christ.

I wonder why teenagers are always asking this question.  I think it has to do with their developmental state.  They are growing up into decision makers, wielding more freedom, spending less time under their helicopter parents, and some are moving away to a freedom they have never before experienced.

Is God still at work when they are beginning to feel so autonomous?  That autonomy is both exhilarating, but I imagine that shortly after the exhilaration is an incredible fear that they will make poor decisions, stray from God’s way, find themselves off the “straight and narrow path” and unable to find the trail again.  Is God still there?  Is God still leading?  Do I get a say in the matter?  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

Across Generations

If you read any blogs about church culture today, you hear over and over again how we have segregated out our age groups within the church.  New church plants try to attract the elusive “young families,” urban congregations reach out to the “young singles” living in their revitalized downtowns, suburban mega-churches try to attract all ages through specified programs and worship services for each age group, and some traditional churches have forgotten what it’s like to have anyone under seventy years old in worship.

One of the strengths of our congregation is that we have all ages and stages of life represented in our community of faith.  Our community coming together as one was no more evident than yesterday.

As worship began, our children and youth chimed in the beginning of worship and led us in the prelude.  Then three of our elementary school children took baskets of palm crosses and passed them out in the opening hymn as we sang, “Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang!”  Following our prayer of confession, four different children came forward to take colorful mixing bowls to collect change from the congregation for our monthly five-cents-a-meal offering.

After the sermon, our youth exited the sanctuary to begin hiding Easter eggs for our annual hunt that was to commence after worship.  These youth, who as children themselves, benefitted from previous youth hiding eggs for them, now take their place as the hiders for a new generation of children.

As people spoke to me at the door, they told me how glad they were to hear our daughter Joanna’s “squeaks” during worship on her church debut as well as the occasional cry of the other babies and toddlers in the service.  No one was concerned with being “distracted,” but they were grateful to have everyone present.

Following worship, people of all ages gathered in the fellowship hall for hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and cake.  I always watch these gatherings, to see if everyone has someone to sit with and talk to them.  I’m always working to make sure any visitors are not alone at a table.  I needed to have no anxiety this week.  I watched as new visitors were welcomed to tables of long-time members.  I saw college students getting to know our senior adults and new young couples at tables with folks who could have been their grandparents.  One of our members who is beginning a new Sunday school class in two weeks was going up to those newer to our congregation who may not participate yet in spiritual formation and was explaining what she was leading and how she hoped they could make it.

Then we moved outside, where the children took off hunting for eggs, with parents, youth, and other adults helping them find more carefully-hidden eggs.  Other adults just watched with laughter and talked with one another in the sunshine.

In the back hallway one of our visitors, the mother of one of our members, said to me, “I just love how in this church you can see all the ages coming together.”  It truly is a gift, a witness, I believe, to what God intends the kingdom of heaven to be like.  I am grateful for all those who gather to worship and praise our risen Lord, and I hope anyone who is looking for a church family to nurture them from birth to the grave and all mixed up together might discover who we are as followers of Jesus as well.

O My God You Guys

Many people in our church and community recently saw Jefferson County High School’s production of Legally Blonde.  The satirical musical is based on the 2001 movie of the same name that stereotypes sorority girls, Harvard law students, greasy lawyers, and what skills it takes to be successful in life.  The opening number of the musical is called “O My God.”  Opening much like the first song in Bye Bye Birdie, a series of sorority girls burst through the doors of the Delta Nu house singing about the upcoming engagement of Elle and her boyfriend Warner.

The refrain of the song repeats and again and again the phrase, “O my God you guys.”

I’ve had a couple of questions from congregants about my feelings on this particular song.  I suppose the concern is whether the song itself is a violation of the Third Commandment, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses His name that way.”  If you’re like me, you learned in early elementary school that we break the third commandment when we say “O my God.”  God’s name is to be used with respect and reverence and not in casual conversation or as an expletive.

And I would still argue that as Christians we do well to avoid using “O my God” as a common phrase, as it is disrespectful and trite.  What I would also hope, however, is that as we mature in our knowledge and faith we gain a fuller understanding of what the commandment is about.

The Third Commandment

First, the phrase we render in English “make wrongful use” comes from a Hebrew word that might just as faithfully be translated to mean that we should not evoke God’s name if we are lying, or as empty, useless, vain, or to no purpose.  To break the third commandment is to do something “in the name of God” that is not worthy of that name.  Frivolousness is one of those criteria, but so are any actions we carry out “in the name of God” that are not faithful to the God of Scripture.

Second, how do we know when an action is faithful to the use of God’s name and when it is frivolous, a lie, or empty?  God reveals the divine name to Moses but remains veiled in mystery beyond the name meaning “I am who I am.”  What this tells the Hebrew people and us is that if we want to know who God is we have to look at what God does.  God liberates the people from slavery, God provides for them in the wilderness, God gives them a law to order their existence in peace, God guides them into a Promised Land, and God forgives them over and over when they are disobedient.  If we want to use God’s name faithfully, we invoke God’s name when we work in the same manner- to liberate the oppressed, to care for the downtrodden, to practice relationships of peace, and to forgive.

As Christians we are told in our baptism that we “have put on Christ.”  We are actually bearers of the divine name, so it is not only when we officially say something is “God’s will” but it is every word, action, feeling, and thought that we have that is actually done in God’s name.  Our lives are to be testimony in all areas to the honoring of this command, this claim on us.

To use God’s name faithfully, therefore, goes far beyond saying “O My God” but how we actually seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  To avoid wrongful use of God’s name we must be truth speakers and love sharers and offer forgiveness.  To say that we belong to God and to live otherwise is to break the third commandment with far greater severity than saying “O My God.”

Song in Context of Musical

So what do we make of a song titled “O My God” in a musical theatre production?  Is this a breaking of the third commandment?  First, let me reiterate that I’d prefer that we as Christians strike this phrase from our speech as frivolous use of God’s name.

In the musical Legally Blonde I sensed no malic behind the use of the phrase.  The song is not intended to denounce a particular religion or beat down a particular theological viewpoint.  The use of the phrase is actually an exaggeration of the reality around us every day.  Try counting in the next couple of days how many people say “O My God” around you.  Watch a couple of hours of HGTV home renovations and you’ll hear it just about at every reveal of a renovated home.

The repetition of the phrase over and over in the opening number of Legally Blonde satirizes west coast sorority girls, and so in a way reveals just how frivolous the phrase is.  By using it over and over again, perhaps we as the audience are to recognize how silly it is to speak this way and perhaps find more creative ways of talking in our own lives.

Aristotle thought that all art should teach.  It might appear that Legally Blonde is about getting people to laugh, but perhaps the show, with its over-the-top stereotypes, asks us each to question how much we try to fit a particular “mold” and calls into question whether that’s the healthiest way for us to live.

 

Assurance

The order of worship in the Reformed tradition is a theological statement to what we believe.  Every form of worship tells a story through the songs sung, the liturgy read, the prayers offered, the scripture read, and the offering collected.  Each piece plays a part in a larger narrative.

Some worship traditions offer more flexibility than ours, others less.  Some adapt convention that feels more comfortable for Christian seekers- high energy music transitioning to a more meditative song and the sermon as the climax of the service.  Others concern themselves with logistics over story.  I heard of a pastor who served a church that did all parts of the liturgy that required standing at the beginning of worship so that people wouldn’t have to get up and down so much over the course of the hour.  Still other forms of worship incorporate many spontaneous acts of singing and dancing and speaking in tongues.

Our worship, however, tells the story of our biblical faith.  Like the beginning of scripture in creation, our worship begins in praise of the triune God, and that knowledge of God’s majesty and love causes us to take a closer look at ourselves.  Seeing the truth of our disobedience, we confess our sin, both the sin of our individual lives and the larger sin that surrounds us in the world to which we are complicit.

After our confession we hear again the Good News, that “in Jesus Christ you are forgiven!”

Everything that comes after the Assurance of Pardon is then directed toward how we live out the grace we know in Jesus.  Scripture, sermon, creeds, offering, prayers for the world are all borne out of the grace of God made manifest in the cross and in resurrection glory.

Recently on a pastor’s retreat one of our leaders spoke to us about the processes of writing and crafting worship liturgy.  He told us that once he has figured out how to composes the Prayer of Confession, the rest of the service, including the sermon, falls into place.

The confession is the moment of truth, the moment we’ve spent six days hiding from, the moment when we must be honest with ourselves.  And then the assurance is the reminder, again and again, that God’s grace comes to us anew, continually renewing and reclaiming and redeeming us.

Our leader told us that the Assurance of Pardon is, he believes, the climax of worship.  “It is to hear that God is for us, that God loves and accepts us, that draws people to worship on a Sunday.  What could I possibly say that is more important than that?”

So even when it feels like tired routine, even when you find your mind wandering and you’re just going through the motions, remember that when we worship, the climax of our story is the assurance:

Who is in a position to condemn?
Only Christ.
And Christ died for us.
Christ rose for us.
Christ reigns in power for us.
Christ prays for us.
For anyone who is in Christ, there is new creation.
The old life is gone.
A new life has begun.
Know you are forgiven, and be at peace.

Biblical Sibling Support

A couple of weeks ago I preached on Jesus calling the first disciples (Mark 1:16-20), and something jumped out at me in the reading of that text that I chose not to incorporate into the sermon for the week, but it is an idea that continues with me several weeks later.

I don’t believe, for all the sermons I’ve heard, that I have heard any pastor reflect on the fact that the first four disciples Jesus calls are brothers- Simon and Andrew, James and John.  These are men who have known each other since birth.  There are have fights over favorite toys, questions about which parents loves which child more, pressures to live up to expectations set by the older broth or to change the reputation of the family the older brother has set.

As adults, rivalries (surely still present beneath the surface) are put aside as they enter into their co-ventures as fishermen in Galilee.

So when Jesus calls these two pairs of brothers, I’m left wondering both some practical questions and some deeper theological ones.

Practically, did the ability to have his brother along for the unknown journey give each man the courage to step out of the boat and into the line with Jesus?  Often we don’t want to take risks alone but have more courage to do so if we are with someone who knows us well and who we can trust to have our best interest at heart.  Is that one of the reasons Simon and Andrew, James and John were willing to take this risk?  They would not be journeying alone.

The second reflection has to do with Jesus’ later words about biological families.  There’s his own harsh words he offers when told that his mother and brothers are looking for him, “Who are my mother and brothers?… Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:32-35).  Or in Matthew when Jesus calls a man to follow him, and the man requests to go bury his deceased father first.  Jesus replies, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22).

So much of Jesus’ ministry is about a redefinition of family beyond traditional biological ties and ethnic culture but the new community formed through his witness to the Kingdom of God and later through baptism into the new life of resurrection.  If this redefinition of family is a central part of Jesus’ message, then why begin his family with two sets of biological brothers?

There may be a point that familial ties are not our primary identifiers once we belong to Jesus and his Kingdom, but our biological families are welcome to witness to that kingdom with us.  Simon and Andrew, James and John may show us how families can witness through their common work to the ministry of Jesus.

Finally, I hear this call of these two sets of brothers and I think of all the other sets of brothers in the Bible and their less than ideal relationships.  You have Cain who murders his brother Abel because God prefers meat to Cain’s vegetables (Genesis 4).  Then there’s the whole debacle with Noah’s sons shortly after the flood waters recede(Genesis 9:18-29).  You have Ishmael and Isaac, both sons of Abraham by different mothers who are separated by Sarah demands that Hagar and Ishmael be banished to the wilderness (Genesis 21:1-21).  You have Jacob who tricks his brother Esau out of his birthright and impersonates his hairy sibling to win the blessing of their father (Genesis 25:27-34, Gen. 27).    And lets not even get into the issues that David’s sons deal with (2 Samuel 13 thru 19).

Based on previous performance, it wouldn’t look like God would call a pair of brothers to carry out God’s new heaven and new earth mission.  But perhaps that’s what grace looks like, redeeming the very relationships that have sullied our human relationships so much.

As a new parent to two children (though a son and a daughter, not two sons), I am drawn to these sibling narratives in new ways, and I think these stories tell us that siblings can be both trusted and helpful travel companions on the journey of faith or they can lead to our destruction, isolation, resentfulness, and anger.  Who remains at the center of our sibling relationships may be the key.  For Simon and Andrew, James and John, service to God through their work with Jesus is what bonds them together and will eventually empower their greater witness through the early church.

May the brothers and sister we know cultivate these same relationships of mutual focus and concern on the ministry of our Lord, that God’s will might be what binds us, heals us, empowers us, and calls us continually to serve.

Architecture of Judgment

While I was in New York in January, my peer group of pastors met with two area ministers to talk about the minister’s role in crafting and leading worship.  Our purpose was less to focus on the act of preaching but to look at the overall arc of worship and the role worship plays both in the identity of a church community and how the pastor most faithfully dedicates time and energy to creating worship.

Toward the end of our time together, one of the pastors we met with talked quite a bit about the message our worship space communicates.  He pastors Broadway Presbyterian Church on the north side of New York City near Columbia University.

broadway-pres-organThere is a giant organ at the front of the chancel, donated by the original minister of the congregation (his wife was a NYC debutante), and emblazoned across the front of organ are the words, “We Preach Christ and Him Crucified.”  I found this a powerful expression of Pauline theology.  We live in an age of prosperity gospel preaching and Christianity as self-help, so I thought this powerful reminder prevented any worshiper in that space from forgetting the uncomfortable reality that we worship a savior who died.

The pastor went on to tell us, however, that these words were put there by the pastor in the midst of the fundamentalist/modernist controversy as he took on Harry Emerson Fosdick of First Presbyterian Church, NYC for preaching a gospel of modernity and not the true gospel.  The connotation of those words in the chancel were thus to be read, “We Preach Christ and Him Crucified (unlike those other churches).”

Space and its organization send powerful messages to a congregation.  In many ways they give us our identity.

We were asked as a group in this sanctuary to consider what a Protestant sanctuary might look like to an unchurched person who wanders in.  He drew the analogy to the setting of a courtroom.  Here are lined pews faces toward the front.  In front, behind a large podium stands a man or woman in a black robe.  Behind that person is a group of individuals, normally around twelve, who make up the choir/jury.  Sitting in that space may very well bring an uncomfortable feeling that we have arrived to hear God’s verdict on our sinful lives.

And perhaps in a time when the church is being viewed as more judgmental, our architecture is reinforcing stereotypes.

worship-backIf any worship space plays out this image of the sanctuary as courtroom, it would be ours at First Church Jefferson City, with our elevated central pulpit, our center aisle dividing prosecution and defense teams and our choir sitting in the elevated jury box.  Is there anything we can do, then, to break through the air of judgment so that a word of grace made radiate through?

I believe we already do some things, and I think we do well to experiment with some more.  Some things we do now include our children’s moment which is normally pretty rowdy, and it’s wonderful that a congregant leads that time, giving voice to someone other than the man in the black robe.  We also hold hands during the prayer after the children’s time, creating a sense of intimacy one wouldn’t expect in a courtroom scene.  I believe hearing prayer requests creates a deep sense of caring between people as well.

Some of the things I try to do to create this deeper sense of grace include leading the Prayer of Confession from the baptismal font.  If there’s ever a time in worship when the judgment of God could be overwhelming it is in that moment of honesty before our Creator.  Instead of standing above the people, I stand at the font, which is our reminder of God’s love that is poured out for us.  On occasion I also try to come out of the pulpit in preaching or solicit congregational response to questions from the pulpit in a sermon to create a deeper sense of community and less the picture of the judge pronouncing a sentence.

Yet there are more ways to create these sense of communal belonging and grace.  I hope in future weeks to continue to think about how we adorn our space to fit the theme of worship.  Last Sunday we had nets strewn about the communion table, pulpit, and font as we heard the call of the first disciples.  I hope to do more visual imagery this way.  I also plan to begin leading the Prayers of the People from the floor instead of the pulpit.  These are our prayers, not my prayers on the people’s behalf.

There may still be other ways for us to communicate through our space and ritual the elaborate grace of God that reaches through our pain to capture our hearts and lives.  My prayer is that our worship space creates a reverence for the holy, a delight in the divine, and  joy in the new life we have in Christ Jesus.  So let’s explore together!

Mobile-Pastors Blog

Whenever I lead a group of teenagers, somewhere over the course of the conversation, no matter the topic or scripture or theme of our time, someone asks the question about whether our will is free or bound.  It happened last night in our back home group at the Montreat Youth Conference.

Sometimes I just skirt the question because it feels like a tangent that derails the conversation.  Other times I try to entertain it and talk about the paradox that is human will in the Christian tradition.  I chose the latter last night.

We began with the idea that nothing happens outside of God’s will.  I asked the kids, “What does it say about God if everything that happens is God’s will?”  Eventually someone said, “Then God is the cause of all the bad things that happen in the world.”

Usually someone else jumps in with a purposeful idea of God’s providence (they don’t know that’s what their doing), “Maybe we just see something as evil or bad, but God has a plan for everything, so God is doing something good through the bad thing.”

And without fail, “If God has to cause tragedies or pain or suffering in order to do God’s good will, then God isn’t very good.  I’m not sure I want to worship that God.”

At this point I chimed in, “So while the understanding that God’s will orders all things affirms that God is in charge (God is sovereign), it brings into question God’s ultimate goodness because of the suffering we see around us.”

“So let’s consider the alternative.  Let’s say humans have free will and can act on our own outside of God’s control.”

And our bright young people reply, “Then that means that God isn’t very powerful and we are capable of thwarting God’s plans and designs.  In that case we can say that God is good but God isn’t powerful enough to bring about that goodness.  In this scenario we are sovereign.”

So is God sovereign but not good or good but not sovereign?

Perhaps this is where understanding the person and role of Jesus and his incarnation can help us understand both God’s goodness and God’s power.  We can say, by looking to Jesus and especially his willful death, that God chooses to limit God’s power by coming in human weakness and subjecting Godself to the depth of human suffering, that God is sovereign but that God makes a choice not to practice that reign as a harsh dictator.  A relationship is essential to God’s way of acting in the world.  The relationship is most important.  God chooses to partner with humanity (this isn’t just in Jesus, think about Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, Esther, Ruth, and on and on) in order to enact God’s purposes.

God invites us to be part of the creation of God’s goodness into the world.  God, who could rule without us, chooses to work with and through us to bring about God’s way in the world.  Does the Holy Spirit work within us causing us to choose to partner with God or do we freely make that decision?  As Presbyterians we tend to lean toward the Spirit’s work, but experientially it feels like a genuine decision on our part to move toward the God who has chosen to come so close to us in Jesus Christ.

I wonder why teenagers are always asking this question.  I think it has to do with their developmental state.  They are growing up into decision makers, wielding more freedom, spending less time under their helicopter parents, and some are moving away to a freedom they have never before experienced.

Is God still at work when they are beginning to feel so autonomous?  That autonomy is both exhilarating, but I imagine that shortly after the exhilaration is an incredible fear that they will make poor decisions, stray from God’s way, find themselves off the “straight and narrow path” and unable to find the trail again.  Is God still there?  Is God still leading?  Do I get a say in the matter?  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

Previous Posts

  • Across Generations
  • O My God You Guys
  • Assurance
  • Biblical Sibling Support
  • Architecture of Judgment
  • Christian Community for Introverts
  • The Prayer of the Children
  • Learning to Be Ourselves
  • Careless Grace
  • The Faith We Form
  • The Futility of Feeling Futile
  • Pastor Andrews Blog

    Whenever I lead a group of teenagers, somewhere over the course of the conversation, no matter the topic or scripture or theme of our time, someone asks the question about whether our will is free or bound.  It happened last night in our back home group at the Montreat Youth Conference.

    Sometimes I just skirt the question because it feels like a tangent that derails the conversation.  Other times I try to entertain it and talk about the paradox that is human will in the Christian tradition.  I chose the latter last night.

    We began with the idea that nothing happens outside of God’s will.  I asked the kids, “What does it say about God if everything that happens is God’s will?”  Eventually someone said, “Then God is the cause of all the bad things that happen in the world.”

    Usually someone else jumps in with a purposeful idea of God’s providence (they don’t know that’s what their doing), “Maybe we just see something as evil or bad, but God has a plan for everything, so God is doing something good through the bad thing.”

    And without fail, “If God has to cause tragedies or pain or suffering in order to do God’s good will, then God isn’t very good.  I’m not sure I want to worship that God.”

    At this point I chimed in, “So while the understanding that God’s will orders all things affirms that God is in charge (God is sovereign), it brings into question God’s ultimate goodness because of the suffering we see around us.”

    “So let’s consider the alternative.  Let’s say humans have free will and can act on our own outside of God’s control.”

    And our bright young people reply, “Then that means that God isn’t very powerful and we are capable of thwarting God’s plans and designs.  In that case we can say that God is good but God isn’t powerful enough to bring about that goodness.  In this scenario we are sovereign.”

    So is God sovereign but not good or good but not sovereign?

    Perhaps this is where understanding the person and role of Jesus and his incarnation can help us understand both God’s goodness and God’s power.  We can say, by looking to Jesus and especially his willful death, that God chooses to limit God’s power by coming in human weakness and subjecting Godself to the depth of human suffering, that God is sovereign but that God makes a choice not to practice that reign as a harsh dictator.  A relationship is essential to God’s way of acting in the world.  The relationship is most important.  God chooses to partner with humanity (this isn’t just in Jesus, think about Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, Esther, Ruth, and on and on) in order to enact God’s purposes.

    God invites us to be part of the creation of God’s goodness into the world.  God, who could rule without us, chooses to work with and through us to bring about God’s way in the world.  Does the Holy Spirit work within us causing us to choose to partner with God or do we freely make that decision?  As Presbyterians we tend to lean toward the Spirit’s work, but experientially it feels like a genuine decision on our part to move toward the God who has chosen to come so close to us in Jesus Christ.

    I wonder why teenagers are always asking this question.  I think it has to do with their developmental state.  They are growing up into decision makers, wielding more freedom, spending less time under their helicopter parents, and some are moving away to a freedom they have never before experienced.

    Is God still at work when they are beginning to feel so autonomous?  That autonomy is both exhilarating, but I imagine that shortly after the exhilaration is an incredible fear that they will make poor decisions, stray from God’s way, find themselves off the “straight and narrow path” and unable to find the trail again.  Is God still there?  Is God still leading?  Do I get a say in the matter?  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.



    Previous Posts
  • Across Generations

  • O My God You Guys

  • Assurance

  • Biblical Sibling Support

  • Architecture of Judgment

  • Christian Community for Introverts

  • The Prayer of the Children

  • Learning to Be Ourselves

  • Careless Grace

  • The Faith We Form

  • The Futility of Feeling Futile

  • Welcome to First Presbyterian Church!

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    Since 1867, God has been at work in our community of faith, and we are glad you are visiting our website to learn more about us! First Presbyterian Church Jefferson City is a vibrant and growing congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) located in the heart of Jefferson City, Tennessee.

    We are a congregation that seeks to grow in faith together through worship, study, service, and fellowship.We invite you to join us!  Bring your questions, your doubts, your hopes, and your deepest longings.

    Explore with us what it means to be a community shaped by the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ, and let us listen together for the voice of God’s Spirit inviting us into a way of life beyond all we can ask or even imagine!

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