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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

July 4, 2013

Today we celebrate our nation's independence, with great gratitude for the gift of national self-government. Such freedom was gained and has been preserved at great price to many, and we dare not take it - or them - for granted.

As much as we are grateful for our hard-won national independence, we need to remember that, while Scripture celebrates the gifts of freedom and liberty, it says nothing to promote "independence." The story of Israel being freed from Egyptian captivity is the closest thing in Scripture to a quest for independence. Yet even there, the Lord's call to Pharaoh, "Let my people go," was not simply for the sake of Israel's freedom, but "that they may worship me." (Exodus 8:1) In the words of Bob Dylan, "You gotta serve somebody." The biblical pursuit of freedom is not merely for independence from oppressors, but for liberty instead to serve the Lord freely and fully.

The Gospel truly does set us free - not from serving others, but from our otherwise-irresistible urge to serve ourselves first.

As Presbyterians, we affirm the organic inter-dependence of all members of Christ's body. Our dependence on each other is a direct extension of our dependence on the Head of the Church, Jesus himself. The notion of an independent Christian or Church makes no more sense biblically than does the notion of an independent bodily organ anatomically.

So as we rightly celebrate our independence as a nation today, I urge us also to remember also our inter-dependence in the family of God.

Knowing well that most of us would much rather do things today other than reading a long presbytery newsletter, this will be all the P-News for today. Enjoy a safe and blessed holiday!

Grateful for all our freedoms,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister

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