He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8)

Over the past three weeks, we have had multiple opportunities to gather as members and friends of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. We have gathered to strengthen one another in our public witness and response. We have gathered in a small church summit, affirming both the challenges as well as the unique space and opportunities before many of our churches. We have heard from brilliant and committed leaders such as the Rev. Dr. Jimmie Hawkins, the Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo and the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones – all echoing and affirming the way before us.

My heart is especially full as I think of our presbytery meeting and the generous love and support I experienced as you re-elected me to continue serving as your Executive Presbyter. I find my spirit renewed as we together lean into this season of creativity and possibilities. The words of the hymn “On Eagle’s Wings” sung at the dinner celebration continue to find its melody and words in my mind.

We have been through a lot of life in our decade together. We’ve shared deaths, births, pandemic, racism, church rebirths, church closures, new partnerships such as Princeton Seminary and Lily Endowment, and more. We have focused on equipping our leaders and intentionally nurturing our pastors. Above all, we have grown a gentler spirit in our covenant community that is experienced by all who attend our gatherings. Time and time again, our visiting preachers, speakers, presenters comment on the spirit in the room. That is all you!!! That is the gift of you – who have allowed me to use my gifts to shepherd our complex, diverse and beautiful tapestry known as the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

So thank you! Thank you for walking together in this uncharted time. Thank you for not letting our disappointments or failures define who we are. Thank you for celebrating – a discipline that we do not always embrace fully. Thank you for encouraging and loving me in my strengths and weaknesses. It is a privilege and a joy to journey together through the wilderness of this moment.

This coming Sunday’s Old Testament lectionary comes from Micah 6:8 – a core reminder of who we are called to be at this moment. We are a people who understand that our witness is not limited or dare I say – even defined by – our buildings, our budgets or even our Sunday attendance. Ours is a call to move from inside of our sanctuaries to the outside – to meet humanity where they live; to bring hope where there is none; to bear light where there is darkness; to reflect a relentless love of God in Jesus to a world where love can be conditional. The words of the prophet Micah resonate across centuries – reminding us of the simplicity and complexity of our call to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.

In this season of gratitude and Thanksgiving, may we renew our commitment to this call. May we resist the temptation of scarcity and take stock of God’s blessings – of God’s abundance – in our lives. For you and I – we – claim to be a people of the impossible – a people who resist the narratives of “insufficiency” of the world – embracing instead the hope of the resurrection. And for this, I am grateful. Amen.