Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
This is one of the places in scripture where Jesus talks about the church – His church. And in this instance Jesus told one particular disciple, Peter (in a Greek word play on Peter’s name) that on this rock Christ’s church would be built. The Rock was Peter’s profession of faith, and it seems that the church, as a human entity, will exist as humans band together in such faith.
Our church is made up of people who follow Peter’s lead in following Jesus, professing faith in Him as Messiah and the Son of the Living God. And followers of Jesus are leaders in this earthly church of Jesus Christ.
On Thursday, November 8, followers of Jesus from around our region gathered at Camp Cedarkirk for a church meeting, assembling as the Presbytery of Tampa Bay. Our own church was represented by elders Gene Aspy, Richard Dobler, and Nanette Rodgers, and ministers Sarah Bishop and Steve Negley. We were excited that day to witness one of our First Pres elders, Jonathan Owen, installed as the Vice-Moderator of the Presbytery. Over the next two years (as he will move to Moderator next November) Jonathan’s devotion to Jesus will help maintain a strong foundation of the Presbyterian Church in our area.
In the Worshipbook (jointly published in the early 1970’s by The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, The PCUS, and The United Presbyterian Church), we find this prayer “For a Meeting of the Presbytery.” Let’s pray this now, and each time Jonathan helps to lead our greater church.
Almighty God, in Jesus Christ You called disciples and, by the Holy Spirit, made them one church to serve You. Be with members of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay. Help them to welcome new things You are doing in the world, and to respect old things You keep and use. Save them from empty slogans or senseless controversy. In their deciding, determine what is good for us and all people. As the Presbytery meets, let Your Spirit rule, so that our church may be joined in love and service to Jesus Christ, who, having gone before us, is coming to meet us in the promise of Your kingdom. Amen.