Aug 19, 2008

PGF in a nutshell

last weekend i had the privilege of joining 1000 fellow presbyterians for the annual 'presbyterian global fellowship' (PGF) conference. this is the first time in my christian life that i have belonged to an actual denomination. until to now, i have been a part of a non-denominational church, basically a family of followers of christ who believe the bible and live as disciples - without the defining constraints of a specific "religion". so this conference was all very new to me and there were tremendous beauties that surfaced during the weekend, along with a collection of thoughts (i call them my butterflies) that floated in and out of my mind.

butterfly #1
 i read words that say; "there is one body and one spirit", "i am the way", "... so that there should be no division in the body" and yet here i reside at PGF in a conventions center that is literally divided in half - with one side occupied by presbyterians and the other side filled with jehovah's witnesses. 

even amongst presbyterians there breathes two completely different beliefs; the PCA and the PCUSA. if i were to extend further out from the evidence of division confined here at the convention center, the list of seperation grows to an overwhelming size. catholics and protestants, homosexuals and heterosexuals, the wealthy and the poor, suv owners and smart car drivers, yankees fans and red sox fans. i may read these ancient words of sweet unity commanded by christ in ephesians, 1 corinthians, and john; but i look around in the world that i live and what i find is the very opposite of his words.

butterfly #2
as god continues to stir within me the picture of justice, i opted to sit in on dr. kara powell's workshop "deep justice in a broken world" even though i had previously experienced it at the youth workers convention last october. there were many poignant ideas that left me undone, uncomfortable, fired up, and ready to conquer the world. but the one thing that i carried with me from the workshop is our finite understanding of the way to do justice, which is to be more accurately described as serving. 

one of the many passions of my heart is missions. at least a couple of times a month i make my way into tijuana to spend the day with my friends at el refugio. this is perhaps the outlet of spreading christ's love that i enjoy the most. yet there remains a myriad of questions. "is my presence in the lives of those living at el refugio actually making a dent in the towering wall of tijuana's injustices? or is it mearly an excuse to pat myself on the back for a good and selfless deed?"

butterfly #3
a second workshop that i attended was "jesus in the margins", presented by debra hirsch.  it emphasized our intentions to literally commune with the people who live in the margins of society. i am not a very intuitive woman when it comes to most things, so when debra introduced the fact that the church is populated with middle class, white, working americans; i felt as though the narrow minded vision i unconsciously see life through was peeled away and a brand new lens focused my perspective of the church. 

in the similar fashion as before, i am bombarded with so many questions. "is the hope that i carry to marry, have 2.2 children, and a life filled with love ill placed?", "do the opportunities i present to our youth truly invite the outcasts of society into the intoxicating love of jesus?

perhaps all of this enlightening information and sea of questions is the beginning of something great that will completely transform my own heart and the hearts of my students.

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