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A Letter from the Pastor to Presbytery

I Have a Dream
August 26, 2010

In a broken and fearful world Pittsburgh Presbytery glorifies God
by joining in covenant life to proclaim in word and deed
the good news of God’s unquenchable love for the world
revealed in Jesus Christ.

I add nothing new to my vision statement this week. It is complete – for now. It is a framework by which I invite us to test everything in our life and mission. All that we are and all that we do ought to move us toward fulfilling our vision for what presbytery can, should, and will be, with God’s help. Our mission statement, important as it may be, is not the final measuring stick for our labors; our vision is the standard by which we measure the appropriateness and effectiveness of our mission. “Mission” states what we do and who we are; “vision” expresses the “why” behind the “what” of mission.

In this series I have sought to keep God at the center of my vision. I have spoken of Jesus as the embodiment of God’s good news for the world. So, where does the Holy Spirit fit into my dream? Short answer: Everywhere.

I have a dream, of a presbytery so full of the Spirit that nothing can thwart its fulfillment of the mission to which God has called it. This presbytery lives in the power of the Spirit that Jesus promised his disciples. Wind power, we might call it.

We need the power of God if we are to accomplish the purposes of God. And that power is made available to us through the Spirit who transformed the disciples at Pentecost. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” Jesus tells them. (Acts 1:8) In order to live into a God-given vision for our presbytery, we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

One of the most frequent reactions to a robust vision statement is skepticism – it would be nice, but it’s never going to happen. Such “realism” clouds vision. It prohibits the dreaming of big dreams. The gap between what we hope for and where we currently find ourselves is so wide that we throw up our hands in despair.

Enter the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the hope that an impossible dream can indeed be realized, and the strength to make it so.

The Holy Spirit is God profligate. God’s Spirit is poured out on “all flesh” in the world of Pentecost. People of all nations and stations receive this same Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out, all our old categories of who’s in and who’s out are wiped out, just as the Jerusalem Christians acknowledged when the Spirit was poured out upon the household of the unconverted Gentile Cornelius. A small beginning toward displaying this breadth of the Spirit’s outpouring is for us to join with others, across denominational lines as well as within our denomination, to declare boldly that Jesus is Lord. Being joined in that witness truly matters – doing it separately or (worse) antagonistically cuts against the very heart of our gospel message.

By the Holy Spirit, we are united with Christ and become part of the very life of God in this world. We become the “body of Christ” in which each member has a necessary part. None of us can say to the other, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21) We especially need those members most unlike us. Instead of an affinity group of like-minded folk, the Spirit-filled church is a conspiracy of people of every stripe gathered in the single purpose of seeing “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Let it be so in Pittsburgh Presbytery.

To God alone be the glory,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, Pastor to Presbytery

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