From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] A Covenant for the New Year

Date 16 Jan 2003 07:25:14 -0500

Note #7565 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

A Covenant for the New Year
January 13, 2003

A Covenant for the New Year

By the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick
PC(USA) General Assembly stated clerk

LOUISVILLE - Stronger than a New Year's resolution - which, if yours is like
mine, wanes after a time - is a covenant. I am so thankful that God has made
a covenant with us through Jesus Christ and has given us the opportunity to
live in covenant community with God and with one another.

I have been focusing recently on the shared covenant for our life together in
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is so beautifully spelled out in the
first four chapters of our Book of Order. 

These chapters begin with the one we value most - Jesus Christ. They set our
whole life as a church under Jesus Christ, who is the living head of the
church. What I consider to be our mission statement as a denomination, the
Great Ends of the Church, is found here (to proclaim the gospel; to provide
shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship for the children of God; to worship
God; to preserve the truth; to promote social righteousness; and to exhibit
the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.) What a wonderful and comprehensive
statement of what Christ calls us to be and to do!

Chapters two, three, and four are just as rich as the first. They make it
clear that Jesus Christ is the Word of God and that the scriptures bear
witness to him. They summarize the great themes of our confessions. They
point out that the church is indeed a missionary society and that its life is
to be defined by its mission. And, they remind us that to be Presbyterian is
to be ecumenical and part of an inclusive fellowship in the body of Christ
that welcomes the widest possible diversity of the human community into our
life and ministry. It is also to be part of a community led by elders and
ministers elected by the people of God where we treasure shared power,
majority rule, and an ordered ministry.

You might say that these four chapters highlight the core values of
Presbyterians and the elements of the covenant that defines our shared life
and ministry. Together, we share a common faith and a common mission.

I hope that early in this new year you will join me in reading with fresh
eyes and an open heart these first four chapters of our Book of Order. May we
be covenant partners with one another to make these core values come alive in
our church in 2003. May we also make fresh commitments to Christian
discipleship and to building up this church that we love.

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