Celebrate Your Victories – The Presbyter’s Pen

Bob Reynolds-headshotby Rev. Robert C. Reynolds, Executive Presbyter

Jesus said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

In September the Vision and Praxis Task Force final report was approved by the Presbytery Assembly. This report directed the presbytery to utilize resources of “community organizing” for deepening relationships presbytery-wide and discerning future mission priorities. We hope this will empower cultural transformation in the Presbyterian community throughout the Chicago Metro area.

One essential practice of community organizing is to celebrate your victories. Celebration rewards leaders and members for their successes and motivates them to continue on toward other victories. It can be done with humility, and it contrasts with senseless bragging or self-serving hubris. It is an occasion of remembering Jesus’ claim on his followers that, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Here are five Chicago Presbytery victories thus far in 2013.

  • Collaborating with congregations/sessions in calling 15 new pastors, associate pastors, and supply pastors.
  • Creative inter-weaving of Presbytery Assembly worship and business, i.e. “worshipful work.” (This was supported by a majority of commissioner respondents in a recent survey.)
  • Covenanting with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
  • Affirming God’s call of the Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston as Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry of the Presbytery of Chicago.
  • Partnering with sessions/congregations to support Christ’s mission through General Assembly’s Presbytery Mission Agency. (In 2012 Chicago Presbytery was first among 173 presbyteries in overall giving to General Assembly mission.)

These victories, and others, flowed from Presbyterian hearts as rivers of living water. In celebrating them, we also look forward in hope to future victories. While naming them, I recall these lines from a prayer by J. Phillip Newell:

“In the beginning, O God,
your Spirit swept over the chaotic deep like a wild wind
and creation was born.

In the turbulence of (our) own (lives)
and the unsettled waters of the world today
let there be new birthings of your Spirit.”
(Celtic Benediction, p. 17)

May we remember to celebrate God’s Spirit bringing new birth and living water, like creation out of chaos, from the turbulence of our lives!

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