Pentecost at West Raleigh
Presbyterians have long been teased for being the frozen chosen – frozen because of our rather stayed Scotch-Irish demeanor (which has at times been resistant to talk of the Spirit) and chosen because one of the theological tenants of the Reformed tradition is predestination (the belief that we have come from God and that it is to God that we will return). Sometimes this old joke is simply poking fun at Presbyterians who are more formal in appearance and worship style – we have never been known to do much dancing in church. Other times being or becoming the frozen chosen poses a greater threat than worship-style, because it closes us to the power of the Spirit. I think what is happening with our partnership at Davie Street is different, deeper, offering much more hope.
The first time Davie Street and West Raleigh shared in worship was at Davie Street on Sunday, August 13th, 2017 – the morning after the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville exposed the racial divide that continues to haunt and threaten our country. While other congregations were struggling to rewrite liturgy and offer a quick and immediate response, West Raleigh and Davie Street continued with our plan to worship together. The service ended with an alter call that brought the two congregations together, and hand-in-hand, we committed to be honest about our past and take risks to build a better future. We were very Presbyterian in our worship with only a little sway here and there, but the movement of the Spirit was palatable.
Last Sunday was our third shared worship – Pentecost at West Raleigh, while Davie Street is under construction. And, it just so happened, that this service was the morning after the royal wedding when Bishop Michael Curry began his sermon in St. George’s Chapel with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the “redemptive power of love.” It was a different kind of Spirit-moment, yet one that also called for a response. Again, Davie Street and West Raleigh continued with our plan to celebrate Pentecost together. Again, we were pretty Presbyterian in our worship, yet the movement of the Spirit was so clearly there, not in a one-off, show-off kind of way, but in a way that is committed to remain open to the power of the Spirit to change us and change the future.
Serita Eisenbies gave me a wooden sign that says, God always shows up. In the commitment of these two congregations to keep showing up with one another and for one another, the Spirit continues to meet us, move us, and ultimately, will change us. We may always be a little frozen-looking in how we worship (or maybe not), but we are not a frozen people. We are a people who believe that we have come from God and our destiny is a whole people of God.
May the Spirit lead the Way,