(In honor of this weekend’s NFL draft and the PC(USA) selection process…)
John Caltrip: Good afternoon ladies and gentleman and welcome to Peachtree Presbyterian Church, site of this year’s PC(USA) draft. This annual event gives churches an opportunity to select the top seminary graduates from throughout the PC(USA). Here with me are John Knoxville
John K: Thanks Cal
John C: and Mel Kipresby, our year long draft expect. Welcome Mel! It’s good to have you back in the booth after you’ve spent the last year scouting at every seminary in country for the top prospects to be taken here today. Mel, tell us, what are some of the main story lines?
Mel K: Thanks Cal, and it’s good to be back. Cal, three big stories are developing. The first is the pressing question of whether Candidate Leroy Morris out of Princeton Seminary will be taken by First Pres of Whitesville, who is picking first overall today. Morris has been the consensus top pastoral candidate this year but there have been some questions about him late in the game.
John C: Mel, what seem to be some of those issues?
Mel K: Well, First Pres really likes him , but his third sample sermon was just so poor. People were also a little disappointed by his performance in the baptism exercise at the PC(USA) combine – he almost dropped the baby and stumbled in removing the top from the baptismal font.
John K: So is it safe to say his stock is dropping?
Mel K: Absolutely, I still think First Pres of Whitesville will make him this year’s top pick though – he has the intangibles they’re looking for and the theological fit couldn’t be better. Plus, he did receive clearance from Whitesville’s COM this week – a huge plus in making him their pick today. The second major story line I see developing is John Knox Presbyterian of Petersville. They currently hold the #2 overall selection, but have been desperately seeking to trade down. They’re only looking for an associate and don’t feel they need the experience of some of the top picks, most of whom are looking for solo pastorates.
John K: Who are they talking to?
Mel K: Well, they’re in intense talks with Westminster Presbyterian of Cherry Township, who would love to move up into that #2 spot in case First Pres of Whitesville were to pass on Morris.
John C: Mel, if Morris is falling who is rising?
Mel K: Well, that’s the third story lines. Two names of notes. Peter Providence is climbing fast after an awesome performance at the combine: an average sermon time of under 15 minutes, while still delivering top-notch content. That’s a combination you don’t find often. The huge concern with Peter Providence is his age, he’s only 25, and the fact that he graduated from McCormick Seminary, which makes First Pres of Cherry Township, a relatively conservative church, very nervous. The other concern was his exegesis paper that was review from his second year – some of the readers really objected to his parsing and hermenutics. He’s come under a lot of fire for that – but people just love his preaching that a lot of Executive Presbyters still expect him to go #2 overall.
The other name that is rising fast is Wayland Presbyterian Church, currently sitting at #3 who have their eye on Theresa Calvin. If Wayland were to take Calvin with the third overall pick that would make her the highest called women in the history of the PC(USA).
John K: You know Mel, there is talk every year about when we will finally see a candidate like Theresa Calvin go #1 overall – will it ever happen or is the glass ceiling real? It seems to me that Calvin has it all – she’s brilliant, she’s got some experience under her belt, she’s the finest preacher in the draft, she did two years in missions and has work extensively in social justice ministries. What isn’t to like other than she’s a woman? Why aren’t more people interested in her?
Mel K: To be honest John, I’m not sure. In part, her drop to #3 is a theological one – her background and strong views on social justice scare away the more conservative churches who are picking #1 and #2
John C: True – but she’s a solid Calvinist who rejects the later neo-orthodox interpretations of his work, why would that scare people away?
Mel K: Cal, I hear ya. And maybe it is the glass ceiling – but I still expect her to go #3 Wayland.
Final question before our commercial Mel, what seems to be the hang up in the trade between John Knox and Westminster?
Mel K: To be honest, no one is sure anymore. Knox really wanted to get Westminster’s minister of music and youth director in the deal, but that was simply too steep of a price to pay for Westminster. Plus, Westminster is somewhat hesitant to move up – the last time they did that they lost their pastor to free agency only two years after he arrived. You know the normal story, bigger town, bigger church, bigger budget, and bigger check.
Thanks Mel – we’ll be right back to the PC(USA) draft.
I started this post a while back, at the end of Advent actually, but hadn’t gotten around to finishing it until now.
Jesus’ path toward the cross began the day he was born. As I said in my sermon a few weeks ago, when a group of non-Jewish wisemen show up to worship a Jewish “king” you know something is up, and clearly Herod felt threatened based on his reaction.
From his seemingly humble beginnings until his end we find that what ultimately got Jesus into trouble was not some sense of self-martyrdom, but his willingness to look at the power structures around him and challenge them if he found them to be unjust. His mere presence was enough to threaten Herod, and as his ministry continued to challenge and worry the powers around him, to the point where they finally had him eliminated (or so they thought). According to Mark (and I never noticed this until last night during our Good Friday service) Pilate knew this:
9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.
When people say that Jesus would be neither a republican or a democrat they’re right – Jesus’ mission was far too radical and subversive to say determine if Jesus would be a republican or democrat. But to say that Jesus was all about saving souls and not politics is a complete misread of Jesus’ ministry. You don’t end up on a cross unless you really bothered the powers that be. Jesus was very interested in the balance of power in the first century and his interest in it ultimately cost him his life.
The power of the atonement is this: In the death of Jesus humanity used all its power to try and reject God – by killing God wearing their own flesh. But through it God demonstrated what Paul would later write:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God would not let humanity go, even when we threw everything we had at God and nailed him to the cross. That is the Good News of Good Friday.
A day of silence
It’s the one day that there’s no point in reading your bible to find something about it out, because the bible is stunningly silent when it comes to Holy Saturday. According to Luke:
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. 1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb
There is nothing to be said when it comes to Holy Saturday, Jesus is dead, God is dead, there is nothing. There is no word from the Lord on Holy Saturday, just blank empty space. One can only imagine the pain of the disciples on that Saturday. The end really had come, it wasn’t a joke, he didn’t save himself as the crowds tempted him to do so. Jesus was really dead, and the seemingly the hope that came with him with it. I can imagine they might have felt angry, that they were deceived and misled. Perhaps there were some who started to say, “Remember he said something about the third day?” But we don’t know for sure what happened, all we know is whatever did wasn’t recorded and passed on.
What does the silence of Holy Saturday mean? To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ve always felt that to a certain extent the silence of Holy Saturday was left there intentionally, to show that sometimes when horrible things happen God is silent for a while, or doesn’t act right away. And that’s not a sign that God has left us, or that God has turned away from his promises, but rather, God’s timing isn’t right yet. At least that’s the best I’ve come up with.
Perhaps Holy Saturday has nothing recorded because we’re not supposed to know what happened that day, or perhaps it’s because there was nothing of note. Or perhaps it’s something else completely.
In any event, the darkness of Holy Saturday points toward the glorious resurrection hope revealed on that first Easter Morning. Praise God, for Christ has risen and will come again.