Tuesday, October 21, 2014

He's Got the Whole World in his Hands 3: with Ryan Smith from the Presbyterian Ministry at the Unites Nations


Victoire, Bob and Ryan 

Our special guest this Sunday is Ryan Smith, our Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations. We begin with a traditional old hymn, God of Grace and God of Glory. I lift up some of my favorite lines:

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the facing of this hour

And most especially:

Save us from weak resignation
To the evils we deplore

And I tell the story of its  writer, Harry Emerson Fosdick, founding Pastor of the Riverside Church after having been brought up on heresy charges by the Presbyterian General Assembly and resigning from First Presbyterian in the Village where he had preached his scandalous Shall the Fundamentalists Win? Sermon which started the furor. Rockefeller built Riverside especially for Fosdick. I also asked us to think about what the world was like in 1930 when  it was written.

Our Gospel passage of the day is Matthew 12: 16-17:
And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's." 17And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him.

It follows in our ongoing emphasis on authority, most recently with the story of the golden calf. Here the message is clear, the whole world is God’s, not the emperor’s.

Following the reading of the gospel, our friend Victoire sings Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind…

And then as a follow up to our participation in the Climate march, Ryan shares with us an overview of what has been going on at the UN. The current round of talks are conclude with a summary of main points so far. Negotiations will continue leading up to a meeting in Paris and then Lima. There is much emphasis on keeping the rise in temperature under 2’ centigrade. At a 2’ rise, some UN island nations would vanish altogether. The process of getting a draft treaty will be long and arduous. And our own country does not have a good record of supporting international treaties. Ryan was impressed by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s active engagement and leadership on this issue, including higher summer and lower winter temperatures at the UN.

Ryan also shared with us something of his work in the area of trafficking and Israel –Palestine issues.

Once again, we sing He’s got the whole world…

As I look around, my heart feels encouraged. My rabbi friend Steve from Open Mic has come.
Rabbi Steve and Bob
My friend Carman Moore has come with an artist friend from Denmark. And Berik has 3 friends from Kazakhstan here for an art show at the UN. Our circle is larger.

I ask Victoire to sing one more dong for us following the service. So we all stay and listen as she sings a traditional French song. 

We’ve had a very good morning together.

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