May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us

May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for usyes, establish the work of our hands.

– Psalm 90:17

I’m honored to be writing this week’s reflection for the MMU. This is my first official week as your new temporary stated clerk and I’m excited for all that is to come. I’m grateful for all the opportunities to get to know each of you in the Presbytery of San Gabriel over the coming months. As a cradle Presbyterian, I love this denomination and the work that is done through our churches and presbyteries. I am a PCUSA pastor’s daughter and a PCUSA pastor’s sister while also being a chaplain, endorsed by the Presbyterian Church, myself. In fact, my brother also works in a church in North Carolina. We’re committed to this work, one might say.

That commitment to the work of the Church, to the work God has called me into since infancy, gives me a strong and sure foundation; a foundation that led me into my work as a hospital chaplain. Being a chaplain has been an incredible blessing on my life and I imagine that your work within the Presbytery, devoting your lives to ministry, has been a blessing to each of you as well. Chaplaincy, as a career, has also been difficult and demanding in many ways, as I imagine your work is at times. In this Epiphany season, it’s easy for me to remember that God’s grace covers all aspects of our ministerial responsibilities and obligations. God’s grace covers our entire lives, in fact. Through each difficult moment, each joyous one, and all the mundane steps in between, God’s care of us remains our surest foundation.

Acting as your stated clerk, my trust in God’s call and grace for each of us as we commit our lives to ministry and Church work, will guide me. If we are in communication in the days to come, please know that my assumption starts with the belief that the work you do is holy and sacred. I am committed to walking alongside you as I keep and organize the administrative and polity work of our presbytery and the denomination.

I’ve spent time this week getting an introduction to some of the upcoming events and offerings available to all of us through the Presbytery. With the upcoming Winterfest, the Lenten series of Becoming the Beloved Community, and the holy work of anti-racism and racial justice that this series will offer, I see how the Holy Spirit is moving within this Presbytery to bring hope, restoration, and engagement in such important ways. I listened to Dr. Shenell’s introduction to the Becoming the Beloved Community series. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to. In her introduction, Dr. Shenell said, “Lent is an invitation to come together and reflect on our brokenness collectively” and gosh, that is the truest thing I’ve read today. In our ministerial roles, we’re not perfect by any means. Our Presbytery and the entire PCUSA denomination are run by a beloved and broken people. In trusting God’s grace for each of us, at all moments of our lives, we find incredible freedom to face the darkest and most broken parts of our world, our ministries, and ourselves and bring abundant light to that darkness. This work is holy, sacred, and a blessing with its many facets and layers, the good and the broken.

As we walk together in community and shared obligation to Christ’s call, I pray we have eyes to see the light breaking through from God’s grace for each of us. John Calvin once said that “We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.” Our hope in being a living, breathing, awakened Church of Christ that is always seeking truth, connection, and the movement of the Holy Spirit is a beautiful thing. I see that here in San Gabriel and that is why I’m honored to support that holy work as your Stated Clerk. You are now, and forevermore, in my prayers. I look forward to meeting you along the way.

Blessings in the good work we share.

Carrie Kohler