Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, June 15, 2020

Scottish Sunday

Scottish Sunday sees Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church taking time out to consider the historical roots of Presbyterian faith in the ministry of John Knox, of Scotland. In our P.C. (USA) Book of Confessions (which helps guide the way we interpret our faith) one of the earliest documents is the Scots Confession.

A video of our Scottish Sunday service can be found here, a transcript of the message can be found here.

John Knox believed that there were three signs that marked any church as being authentic. Faithful proclamation of the Word of God; faithful administration of the sacraments and effective church discipline. It is probably on the latter of these, church discipline, that he would find fault with us today! Although our Book of Order has a whole section devoted to the matter, it is probably the least referenced section of the volume.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. The most effective form of discipline is self-discipline, rather than that imposed by an outside body. There have historically been many cases of abuse of authority on the part of those who felt it their task to rule it over others with an iron hand.

We shy away from the word ‘discipline,’ as it implies heavy-handedness and judgmental attitudes. Yet it is from the root of ‘discipline’ that we have the much more accessible word ‘disciple.’ We much prefer the ‘disciple’ word. That could be because we look at discipleship through rose-colored spectacles rather than the demanding definition that Jesus gave us.

Scripture teaches that discipleship involves taking up a cross, having a love for God that places all other loves in jeopardy, and seeking the welfare of our enemies. This is, of course, not the way we function! We do our best to avoid confrontation, are prone to make idols of just about anyone or anything that makes us feel good and rejoice when our enemies get what we feel they deserve!

John Knox was however also aware that Christian life was not an effort of disciplined self-will but a response to the grace of God. In a section in the Scots Confession on the Holy Spirit we read “Our faith and its assurance do not proceed from flesh and blood, that is to say from natural powers within us, but are the inspiration of the Holy Ghost…”

For some music “Celtic Worship” perform “In Christ Alone.
Prayer: “Lord, if our faith were to be judged by rules of discipline than we could be in deep trouble. We are thankful that Jesus did not come into our world to condemn but to redeem. As we sense Your grace, may we be moved to serve others in the strength of Your love. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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