Uprising: Website Banner

Names Matter

May 4, 2023
What’s in a name?

“So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi.” (Gen 16: 13)

Hagar, an enslaved woman, impregnated by her mistress’s husband and then cast out and abandoned, is met in the wilderness by God. She is the first in the Scripture to name God: El-roi—God who sees.

Generations later, another enslaved person, Moses, encounters El-roi in the wilderness, in the apparition of a burning bush. But he does not know this name and says to the enlightened one, “If they ask, ‘what is his name, what shall I say to them?’” The name offered is not fully translatable but is considered to mean, “I am,” or “I will be who I will be.” It is considered so holy that Jews do not speak the name.

God names some of the people in Scripture: Abram becomes Abraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah, and Jacob becomes Israel. John the baptizer, and Jesus both received their names from God.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20: 7)
Naming matters.
It defines relationships, unites families, and often confers power to the one who gives the name for another. It binds a person to their word and their works. The way we use another’s name can hurt or help us connect.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am.” He was asking about how his life and ministry was understood by them. He was asking whether the witness he offered to the people was helping them understand the relationship God wanted with them.

Names matter. Have you had your name mispronounced? Or been confused with another? Or been forgotten? Have you had nicknames you loved, given by people you cared about? Or names you wanted to get rid of but couldn’t?

Imagine for a moment spending your entire life being called by the wrong name? Imagine not being able to convince people to use your proper name? Such disrespect is almost inconceivable. Yet, across our county and nation, lawmakers are prohibiting people from naming themselves, and choosing pronouns that match their name. “Who do you say that I am,” our trans neighbors want to know. Their teachers are being forbidden, or freed from being required, to call students by their chosen names.

St. Andrew is a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs for such a time as this!
Let us, called by the name of Christ Jesus, who believe that human beings bear the image of God, who love God, always love our neighbors as ourselves. When they ask us, “who do you say I am,” use the name by which they introduce themselves, and the pronouns they request, just like you do for every other human being you meet. Just like you want when you introduce yourself.

Really, it is that simple. Even Shakespeare got it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”


Wake Up

April 27, 2023

Wake up.
SAPC is aiming to be a place “where everybody belongs.”

what are humans that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
Ps 8: 4-5

“Grooming.” “Woke.” Two words that have become politically divisive language instead of being words which describe the forces that shape our behavior and thinking in particular matters. All of us have been groomed on some level regarding sexuality and other interests. All of us have awakened on some level to disparities between the races, and genders.

Being woke allows me to recognize misogyny and racism (and other sins). Just think of clothing and the way we characterize women’s bodies based on what they wear. No one is banning “Victor, Victoria” with Julie Andrews, or complaining about women wearing business suits with pants to work, only drag shows where men and transwomen wear women’s clothes to their work as entertainers. The anti-drag movement is a statement of grooming about their (de-) valuing of women and the shaming of men and transwomen “acting” like a woman, dressing like a woman.

Being woke is what allowed me to gasp in shock earlier this week when I read that Monday was a state holiday in AL and MS to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Yes, they still do that.

Wake up and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard; obey it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Rev 3: 2-3

 Grooming is subtle and pervasive.
Now, I have a great-great-grandpa whose picture hung over the bed I used to sleep in when I visited my grandaunt. He was scary looking to my little self. His hands were crossed in front of him, large and swollen.

I was told he was a war veteran, got shot, hence permanent swelling in his hands, and was a POW. We honored his status as a Confederate soldier. He owned a few slaves, “but he was good and treated them well.” I lived in Stone Mountain, GA, where the granite outcropping became home of the 1915 re-birth of the KKK, and is a state park monument to the confederacy. Though acknowledging our family history, no one in the circles my family were part of ever behaved in overt racist actions, nor spoke ugly of Black people.

(Is there any way to describe racism that is glad it was only this much and not that?)

Nevertheless, from sleeping under a soldier’s watchful gaze to celebrating the completion of the carving on the mountain, I was groomed by my familial and societal experiences to know my place as a white child of the south.

Becoming woke is the arc of the moral universe–it is bending always toward justice!
Today, April 27, 2023, is a day to celebrate. Because Americans continue to become woke, we are slowly erasing the honor we bestow on reprehensible behavior and public action. Today, a US Army post will be renamed, Fort Gregg-Adams. The general whose face remains on Stone Mountain will no longer be the inspiration for our soldiers’ service at this post in Virginia.

Instead, LTG Arthur Gregg and LTC Charity Adams, a Black man who rose from private to 3-star general, and a Black woman who was the first Black officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the first to lead a predominately Black unit in overseas service, will be the face of history for our current servicemembers.

Following Christ, who lived and died and rose again that the whole world might be saved, surely we are called to be woke from the sorry history (old and currently being made) that grooms us to believe powerful, white men are the one and only supreme definition of full humanity. We strive to be like Christ, who creates a new humanity, in which all people bear God’s image, and together, equally, reflect the glory of God.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3: 27-28

Will you join St. Andrew PC as we strive to be a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs?


Sanctuary and Safety

April 20, 2023

“Many people think of a house of worship as a safe area where violence and emergencies cannot affect them. However, violence in houses of worship is not a new phenomenon. In addition to violent acts, fires, tornados, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and arson also affect houses of worship.” The preceding sentence comes from a PCUSA document.1 It was originally written in 2013. Does that raise your angst higher to know we have been intentionally addressing the dangers in the world, including intentional acts of violence, for years, or lessen your worry?

Sibling Rivalry
It is not as if the church of Jesus Christ suddenly became a target in the last few weeks following the events in Nashville. We only need to open our Bible to Genesis 4, barely into the story of God and humankind, to discover our violent choices against our own kind. I have always been intrigued by the very honest way Scripture reveals God’s way in the midst of the tragedies of natural and human-made destruction. Neither Judaism nor Christianity hide from the daily sorrows or violence of life.
We also never give up in the face of disasters. We believe in Jesus Christ, who “commands even the winds and the
water and they obey him.” (Luke 8: 22-25) He is the Prince of Peace who also reminds us to keep our swords put away lest we die by the sword, and whose ancient vision calls us to beat our swords into plowshares. (Mt 26: 52 and Isaiah 2: 4)

Nevertheless, or because, we Presbyterians take seriously the “persistence of sin in our lives,” and the “human tendency to idolatry and tyranny,”2 we also have a response-ability to develop plans for the safety and well-being of all who are engaged in the ministries of the church.

As an interim pastor, it is one of the avenues I usually discuss with the leaders, sometimes including a practice fire-drill before the end of my time. As it happens, with a full-time childcare center here, your leaders are taking a new (old) look at our protocols and policies. The session formed a Security Task Group this month.

They have three goals:

  1. Implement some immediate and long-delayed changes to improve security – cost up to $5000.00 (already within 2023 budgeted funds).
  2. Apply for FEMA grants for ongoing projects as we develop other solutions for our safety and security.
  3. Design and recommend changes, policies and procedures for review and approval by the session and implement those changes as directed.

(For the exact phrasing of the motions and rationale, you can ask the clerk of session, Marcia, for a copy of the approved motions.)

The Security Task Group core members are: Ally Fetch (elder, NLC Bus. Mgr.), Josh Shields (elder elect and former trustee), Kevin Burel (elder in reserve) and Randy Dragon (trustee, elder in reserve). They have been encouraged to seek out others in the church’s membership who may have specific knowledge to be part of this work as well.

As they move forward and we adapt to new measures (yes, access codes or keyed entry may be changing), please be encouraged by this visible response of faithful care for each other. It will be a challenging balance between being an open and welcoming church where everybody belongs and a safe environment where every body is appropriately protected. Please pray for wisdom as we consider and introduce changes.

As always, may we yet shine as a beacon of peace and love, following the light of Christ.

Peace be with you,

Rev Bev
1Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship. June 2013
2PC (USA) Book Of Order 2019-2023, F-1.0303b and F-2.05.
-Swords to Ploughshares, benito roveran from verona, Italia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, Mosaics Yael Portugheis in Beit Habad Gallery, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem.
-Swords to Ploughshares, Sculpture at the United Nations, By Neptuul – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32412758


Great is God’s Faithfulness

April 13, 2023

Happy Easter!

Great is God’s faithfulness! Oh-you thought that was over and done? This is actually a “season,” as in “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I should say, the risen Christ is the reason we celebrate resurrection every Sunday on “the Lord’s Day,” and the immediate experience of resurrection for the disciples from now through the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Too much churchy stuff to keep reading?
Consider this. Yesterday was a good day in some ways and a lousy day in others. For you, it may have been great all day long and another minute or hour in bed to savor the memory is not long enough. Or it might, for you, have been a terrible, awful, no good day and the sooner it ended, the better. Then, the sun came up this morning.

Whatever happened yesterday, today is new. Today is a day to enjoy the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is not a theology about life after death.

In its fullest form, resurrection is a gift for living life after life. It is the gift of everyday’s new beginning.

I awoke this morning thinking, “If today was the last day of my life….”

I’m here now, at my life, in all its routine, watching for surprises, waiting for the other shoe to drop, creating the moments of joy and possibility, and going through the motions, all of it–with resurrection in mind. Whatever comes, for good or ill, resurrection gives me hope that I can endure with  patience and hope, enjoy with celebration, and confidence, that with my next breath, life is everlasting. Even if mine is not here, I can leave rejoicing in the wonder of new life every morning for you and yours.

Great is the faithfulness of God! Morning by morning, new mercies to see….

Peace be with you!

Rev Bev
photo credit:

Ikonact – Own work Bulgarian orthodox Easter Eggs CC BY-SA 3.0


The Meaning of the Cross

Good Friday is not “good.”

Jesus died. We barely study Friday and Saturday of holy week. We focus on Easter. We want parades that ignore the suffering of the cheering crowd who gathered to protest evil’s oppression. We want life without punishment, without the silence that follows a beloved child’s plea for his father to show his face. Perhaps we have heard a message of the cross that is too difficult to digest, even with a bite of bread and a sip of wine.

Traditional language calls Jesus’ death on a cross a “sacrifice,” “substitute,” and claims Jesus “paid the penalty” for our wayward lives. This state execution, encouraged and supported by local religious co-conspirators, is described as a tool in the hands of an angry God. God exacted punishment for crimes against humanity from his own kid, who did nothing wrong.  Who wants to be friends with that?

Is there an alternative?
I believe these unstudied words miss the point and lead us to abuse our power with the illusion of redemptive violence. Death on the cross was a sinful action of sinful human beings. I believe God chose to unite with us so thoroughly (incarnation) that it meant God, in Jesus, would die a human, mortal death, like we do, and then ended up enduring injustice, like many of us do. In the case of Jesus, his “crime,” was showing evidence that we could live together in peace.

Jesus died on a cross, not to please God, but to keep people in positions of authority and wealth and perceived safety.

Christ’s life, offered to us, demonstrates a new way of being human.  
Justice invites us to equitable sharing of power, of resources, it provides shared access to healing, shared economic wealth so everyone has enough to eat. Kindness asks us to pray for our enemies. This new life trusts God is doing a new thing that refutes violence, even the possibility of redemptive violence.
Easter is the answer
That new thing, God’s answer to the cross and our wayward way of living, was always going to culminate in resurrection. Without fear of death as final, we can brave the life we are living on new terms.

Let us be resurrected, transformed, through Christ’s courageous and healing work of reconciliation, even if it leads us to pick up a cross ourselves.

Happy Easter, happy life! Peace,

Rev Bev
Credit: Awake My Soul,Mike Moyers, httpsdigliblibraryvanderbilteduactimagelinkplRC57138-retrieved-January-28-2023-.jpg


It’s been a week…

It’s been a week. No, several. It’s been a month of …days when all hell has been breaking loose and ripping apart neighborhoods, schools, families, nations, lives.
What are you seeking? This Lenten season’s theme has asked us:
is this the fast I choose; who will you listen to; how do we begin again; will you give me a drink; who sinned; and can these bones live.
The Questions of the Week

We have been willing to confront the difficult days, challenging ideas, and looming death. Nevertheless, our world continu#silencedes to spiral in chaos. This week the question is, “Where are you headed?” I’m not sure if the question is meant for us to consider about our lives, because I have only been able to ask that question of Jesus over the last couple of weeks. I have been at a loss for words. I have felt silenced in the face of all that is so messed up.

 The Way for Those Who are Seeking
Sunday I will head out with Jesus I suppose, with all my questions about where we’re going and whether we will find any peace on the way. We’ll walk the road of hosanna strewn palm branches and off into the middday sun of Christ’s passion and his descent into death. I think some, many, of us have gone ahead of him and wonder if he can find us there. We need Christ’s light. We need to be a light. 
If it’s been a hard week for you, you are not alone in wondering where your life is headed or for asking, where is God. We may not have the answer but we do not need to go alone.
Come Sunday, join together at least, so that if nothing else, we are not blind and  alone in the silencing powers of destruction. Maybe there is a way in the wilderness that leads to new life, if we can make it to tomorrow.


2022 Blog Posts are archived HERE.