Our seventh and final core value is serving. Our vision statement makes clear that mission is at the heart of our community. It is a reminder that First Church has a long history of being involved in serving the community and the world around us.
Serving is also a reminder that the scriptures, from beginning to end, call upon is to serve others. The Torah, the Law of Moses, makes it clear that we are to serve the hungry, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. Jesus tells us that he came to be a servant and not to serve, and his followers are to follow his example of service to others.
I realize that many of us would have placed serving at the beginning rather than the end of the list. Since Jesus speaks of loving God and loving neighbor perhaps we ought to have had Christ as the first Core Value and Serving as the second Core Value. So why place it here at the tail end?
I placed it here not because it is at the tail end, but because I believe it fits here as part of the cycle of spiritual life. Spiritual growth into Christ-likeness is not a straight forward path. It is a cyclical path upon which we tread as we seek to be faithful to the one who loves us.
We center our life on the Triune God that we have come to know most fully in Jesus Christ. Then we seek to practice each core value (spiritual discipline) in order that it leads us to more fully practice the others. So as we practice serving, it will cause us to reach out, which will then cause us to welcome…and on and on.
The PCSA Book of Order puts it this way, we are to reach out by:
"participating in God’s mission to care for the needs of the sick, poor, and lonely; to free people from sin, suffering, and oppression; and to establish Christ’s just, loving, and peaceable rule in the world" (F-1.0302d)
The First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham is a community of Jesus' followers who are called to live out the Christ like life. I believe if we are willing to return again and again to our core values centered in the triune God we will find that we are indeed becoming that kind of community.