In this sermon preached at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant on November 18, 2018, Rev. Tom Davis uses a song by “Sweet Honey in the Rock” to reflect on the current treatment of immigrants and refugees in the United States. You can listen to his sermon here.
On July 22, 2018, Ginny Jones preached about how Christians working together can make mission possible. Listen to her sermon here. When the file opens, click on the right facing arrow to start it playing.
The Presbyterian Church of the Covenant is about connecting people and changing lives.
Churches don’t necessarily have to create new programs to change lives. Church members can connect with people in other organizations which are changing lives. One of those organizations in Delaware is the Alternatives to Violence Project. PCOC team ministry staffer, Rev. Tom Davis, President of the Interfaith Veterans’ Workgroup, is a workshop Facilitator for AVP. He explains why he has become an avid volunteer for AVP:
A recent CDC study on the roots of gun violence in our area focused on the long term damage from early childhood trauma.
The Alternatives to Violence Project was started in a U.S. prison by Quakers in 1975 and since then has been refined and exported to 119 countries. AVP workshops take about four half-days. They are facilitated by trained inmates and visiting facilitator volunteers. They contain many brief interactive exercises and some longer ones for refection about oneself.
An AVP friend of mine from Washington state, Roger Kluck, is using AVP workshops with incarcerated veterans. Recently, during a break in one of Roger’s workshops, an inmate from outside who had overheard “AVP” came to Roger asking for a moment to speak to the participants. It turned out he had taken AVP before, and it had changed his life dramatically. This man, Jimmie Martinez, spoke briefly, passionately, and articulately. Roger asked him to return the next day, and obtained permission to film his story. The film below demonstrates the damage of early childhood trauma, and also, the possibility of recovery with help from people who are not afraid and who care.
There’s a sweet, sweet, spirit in this place. A Bible verse (Matthew 18:20) says that where two or three people gather in the name of Jesus, his spirit is with them. A gospel song celebrates how that feels, when the spirit of Jesus is with us: “There’s a Sweet, Sweet, Spirit in This Place,” sings a choir in north London.
Over a lifetime of pastoring I have been blessed to experience that feeling in several congregations when people rejoice remembering the peaceful and loving walk of Jesus.
There are also times when people gather in the name of Jesus to decry injustice and protect citizens who are vulnerable and downtrodden. Weekly my wife and I go into Wilmington neighborhoods where there has been a severe injury or death by gun violence. We gather with the Wilmington Peacekeepers, praying to comfort the bereaved and to demonstrate support for citizens who feel they have been forgotten. Perhaps it would be overly sentimental to say that there is a sweet, sweet spirit in these corner prayer circles. Certainly we do care deeply for each other and for the neighbors we have come to comfort. But our feelings are more complicated than sweetness. As the prophets experienced, indignation and righteous anger are sometimes co-mingled with sweetness. Jesus drove money changers out of the temple court with a whip. I don’t think he was feeling very sweet right then.
There is such a thing as tough love, and we may not feel so good exercising it. May the spirit that so filled Jesus be in us, that we can be resolute without being cynical and recriminating. It’s a lovely blessing to feel a sweet spirit in company with others. But love is about much more than this feeling.
Member of ministry team, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant
Welcome to the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant blog.
Many voices speak here, with the Holy Spirit’s help, connecting people and changing lives. This is the blog page of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. You will find many sermons here, preached by PCOC’s ministry team and occasional guest preachers. You will also find short articles about upcoming events and various concerns of our community relating not only to what’s happening locally, but also nationally and globally. This is a place for dialogue. Please leave a comment or question to keep the conversation going!
When you click on the “Blog and Sermons” tab, entries are listed chronologically with the most recent on top. Scroll down to see earlier ones.