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A Letter from the Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

Reflections of the True Light
August 10, 2017

“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; 12-13

As I write, I am enjoying the sun, sand, and deep heat of St Pete Beach in Florida. As I am attending the conference of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities, I am also enjoying the worship and conference events related to what is happening around our denomination in new expressions of Christian community.

It is good to connect with others across the PCUSA who are encountering the same challenges, hopes, and anxieties we are all facing in this unique moment in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ.

This is an uneasy time in many ways. We know we are facing decreasing numbers of members and a growing unease about the future. We know we are not alone among mainline Christian denominations in facing these troubling realities.

It is not easy to maintain a positive attitude when there is so much negativity in the air. Being with others in worship and study is an excellent way to recharge our spiritual batteries. It is also a blessing to have time to reflect in a place where God’s power and goodness, expressed in the creation, is so close and visible.

Here at St. Pete Beach on the west coast of Florida, the sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are magnificent and ever changing. There is no question where the horizon is at sunset. The sun sets rapidly and beautifully in the west. So I was surprised to look up after dinner and see a gorgeous array of sunset colors in what I knew to be the northern sky.

I was disoriented until I realized that the sun setting in the west was being reflected off the clouds to the north. It was clear that the pink, orange and golden clouds in the northern evening sky were borrowing their stunning glory from the true sun setting in the true west. The northern clouds were reflecting the beauty of the true setting sun.

Amidst all the worries and woes of our age, we must never lose sight that our Savior Jesus Christ is the true source of the light of our lives and this world. When we are in harmony with the will of God, we reflect God’s light just like those northern clouds. We hope and pray we can reflect even a small bit of that light into the world each and every day, from sunrise to sunset.

Paul wrote in his love chapter these enigmatic but hopeful words, “For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.”

We do see and know only in part. But we have been promised that in time, we will know and be fully known. God’s love is the light that can and will sustain us in every change.


The Rev. Dr. Beverly W. James, Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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