Keeping up with Christy



Minding the Outlet Store Monday and Wednesdays at ComputerCorps in Carson City, Nevada

Preaching at the 11 AM services Sunday, December 9th at Valley Presbyterian Church in Bishop, California





Times when the entire General Assembly…assembles…are called “plenary sessions”, meeting times whenever all the commissioners (never “representatives”!) are invited and entitled to meet together, to watch, listen, vote, debate, pray and worship.

The assembly opens the week in plenary session, elects a moderator, breaks up into committees then comes back to plenary to vote on the committee recomendations at the end of the week. 

Here is the schedule. It may be changed by the assembly during the session lengthening a session or starting a session early, but generally the commissioners will be meeting during these 12 periods of time.

REMEMBER - You must be registered with a badge ($30) to enter the meeting hall. (Not the exhibit halls or other free and ticketed events.) Video monitors on site and streaming on the internet are available for those not in the hall.




Here is a handy grid of when the 220th Presbyterian General Assembly in Pittsburgh’s exhibit hall is open. The hall full of missions, ministries, books, swag and stuff, opens a day before the start, varys from day to day during, and closes 3 days before the end. 



Easy on the Eyes

This recorded sermon is from 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 given at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church in Akron, Ohio, on June 17, 2012. See as God sees, not as mortals see.

The following is a transcript of the live no-notes presentation flawlessly prepared by All errors are mine own. The recording is downloadable here.

“She’s a looker.” “He’s easy on the eyes.” You ever heard these expressions? These expressions are right here in our scriptures today. One of the expressions, when David comes, one of the ways to translate that is that David was easy on the eyes. Do you judge by outward appearances? By look? You can’t help but do it. You can’t help but look. It’s almost genetic that we look at someone, and we size them up by how they look, their appearance, whether they’re comely or good-looking or tall or thin or all that. Sometimes we don’t even realize it.

When I came back to Akron, I needed a doctor. Turns out that my doctor was no longer there after 30-some years away. And so I thought, I know what I’ll do. I’ll ask a nurse. Nurses know. They know who are good doctors. So I went and asked nurses. And I said, “Hey, who is the best doctor?” And they looked at one another, and they said, “Well, Dr. [Shanafelt] or Dr. [Fantelli]. Yes, yes, definitely Dr. Shanafelt or Dr. Fantelli. It’s hard to tell. One of those two.” And the other one’s, “Yeah, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, those two. Those two, definitely those two.” So I said, “Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Where are they?” “Well, they’re both out in Tallmadge.” Okay, great.

So I went out, signed up. Shanafelt was out. I had Fantelli. I said, well, they said either one was good. Fine, got along great, start going to the doctor. And months later, your intrepid pastor says to the nurses, “Hey, thanks for that recommendation for Dr. Fantelli. I’ve gone out there and really like him.” And the nurse says, “Yeah. He’s dreamy.” They didn’t know I was asking about a doctor to go to for doctoring. They thought I was asking who was the “best” doctor. He is quite a handsome man. And at the time he was single. He’s getting married soon. The difference between looking and seeing. I was looking for a doctor. They were looking at the outward appearance.

The Lord doesn’t see as mortals see. Did you see the changes? That’s actually a change in verbs in the Hebrew about between looking and seeing, looking on the outward appearance and then seeing what’s really there. You ever wonder that, boy, that was a long reading. Why didn’t God just tell Samuel, “Hey, Samuel, got a job for you. Go on down to Bethlehem, check out Jesse, he’s got a son David, probably out with the sheep. Anoint him king. We’re good to go.” You know, like 10 verses gone. Why didn’t he just do that?

Instead, there’s good old Sam, you know, sitting by the fire. Who knew he had eight sons? Geez, seven’s perfect. And so one after another they come by. One after another, Sam is looking and saying, “What am I doing here? Lord, nope, no. What is this guessing game? Just tell me which one it is.” The Lord never tells him to go get David. He has to see it for himself. Finally, in this little drama, in this pageant, if you will, of men walking by, I can imagine – what do you think? Was there a swimsuit competition, you think? I don’t know back then. What would they do? He now he goes, “And what would you do, your fondest wish for the world?” And then he goes, “Oh, no, not that one.”

But after all the pageant was done, and after the judges had put in their – imagine, if you will, the pageant is done. Everyone’s gone. And then the judges come back and say, none of these. No one. You got anybody in the back? Samuel finally sees beyond what he looks at. He’s looking at seven sons, a perfect number, well suited to be kings. And God says, you know, looking’s not enough. You’ve got to see more than what you can look at. And it occurs to him, maybe there’s something here I’m not seeing. More than what I can look at. And he turns to Jesse and says, “Am I seeing everything? Is there another son? I don’t know.” “Oh, yeah, I’ve got another son. He’s out there getting the sheep.” “Bring him here.” And God says, “You got it. You got it.”

Remember that grief, that sadness you were with Saul? You know, imagine Samuel’s got to be so sad. I mean, he was rejected as a judge. You know, they didn’t want him anymore. He was old. They actually came out and said, “You’re old. You’re old. We don’t want you no more.” How many here like to hear that? Okay, I’m saying no, none. And then they said, here on Father’s Day, last week they said, “Your sons are no good.” And it really hurt because they weren’t any good. “Yo, your sons are no good. We want a king.” Sammy did everything he could. Even argued, drug his feet against God to not get him a king. They made him get a king. He got a king.

And just as he said, king screwed up. Big screw up. Horrible screw up. Didn’t do what God says. He’s constantly after Saul, yelling at him all the time. And Saul, Saul doesn’t even care. Saul less than cares. So imagine, if you will, he comes in, he goes da da da da da, and Saul basically says, “What’s the big deal? What’s the big deal?” When you’re a prophet, you like to be a big deal. And Saul’s saying, “God, get away from me. You bother me. I’m doing okay.” Saul. You think Saul was such a bad king, even God was sorry he made him king. That’s pretty bad.

Imagine how sad Samuel was at the way his life had turned out. He’s too old. He’s thrown out. Didn’t even get a decent retirement party, no severance, nothing like that. His sons are a disappointment or a scandal, and everybody knows it. The king, the one maybe thing that he had going for him, that he got the king going, he didn’t want to do. He thought it was a bad idea, and it turned out to be a bad idea. Did anybody come back and say, “Hey, Samuel, you were right, that was a really bad idea to do a King Saul. You were right. I should have listened to you?” No, nothing. They were too busy out partying.

He must have thought he was a failure. And not only that, he must have thought God’s plan was running toward ruin. And for that God comes to him and says, “Quit your bellyaching, quit your sadness, get out of the dumps, get out of bed, take a trip, go to Bethlehem. I’ve got things for you to do.” “What are we going to do? Just tell me.” “No, you’ve got to go do it. Go. You have to go find out. I’m doing more than you’re looking at. You have to see that there’s more than what is just the appearance.”

You have to see that, just because you look out and you see nothing that God has chosen, that somewhere out in the hills, tending sheep, is a shepherd boy that will be king, that will be the father of the savior, Jesus Christ. It’s here that the lineage shifts, where the kingdoms come in, where you pick up the line of David that eventually will get us to Jesus Christ of the House of David from Bethlehem. God was doing a great thing. Samuel couldn’t see it because he wasn’t looking in the right place.

Our scripture from Mark today talks about the kingdom of God like that. And when we think about kingdom, unfortunately we think about border guards and about places on the map and about drawing the boundaries. And we talk and we think more about political and economic subdivisions, and we talk more about the reign of God. Maybe a better translation of the kingdom of God is the reign of God. Remember the Lord’s Prayer. It says “Thy kingdom come,” and then right after, “Thy will be done.” Remember, Hebrew likes to be paralleled, say the same thing twice, different ways. Where’s God’s kingdom? Where is it? Can we go there? Can we take a vacation? Can we get a trip ticket to that? The kingdom of God is where God’s will is done.

So if you’re looking around, and you’re like Samuel, and you want to stay in bed? And you give up because no one’s listening to you, everything’s gone to pot, things have gone from bad to worse because they didn’t listen to you? If you’re in that and say, now, can nothing good be going on in the world, everything is horrible, shut it all down, start it over, you’re not seeing as God sees. You’re not looking in the right place. And if you think about David, too, he got anointed king. Would you want to be anointed king? Who wants to be anointed king? I can always ask questions with negative answers because no one raises their hand in congregation, so that’s good. No one wants to be king. You do not want to be king because Saul’s going to kill you.

And sure enough, there were a lot of problems before David gets to be king. He gets to be working too hard as an armor-bearer and as a musician. He’s employed below king. He doesn’t start out as king. He’s got to go fight Goliath. That’s not a good time. He is running away from Saul, who strikes out after him when he gets angry and jealous. He has to leave his friend Jonathan. He has to fight with those that he had formerly served with. He’s in exile. He’s running. He’s a refugee. He lives as an outcast. This is king?

So in the great scheme of things, what does our scripture tell us today? It tells us on one hand, yeah, David’s king. And you can say, you can assert it all down and say, hey, that King David, he was legit. He was the one chosen by God, as opposed to Saul that was chosen by the people and ratified by God. But God chose a King David. You can say that. But I think the more at least as important thing is how God brought Samuel along to that, and how God brings us along to tell us that what you’re looking at is not what I see. What is making you depressed and keeping you in bed and grieving over things that used to be, and how things have gone wrong, while true, while correct, while reality, is not the whole story. It’s not even the most important part. It’s not even the part that’s going to last. The part of the story is that what you can see as I see.

Remember that prayer from “Bruce Almighty,” that wonderful prayer after the Miss America prayer, where the actor, Jim Carrey, tells Morgan Freeman as God of his love of his life that he’s been trying through the whole movie to get. He goes, “Do you want her back?” And he says, “No, I want her to be happy. I want her to be loved as she’s deserved to be loved by me. I want someone to always see her as I see her now through your eyes.”

William Willimon tells a story on himself. Often his stories are about how he screwed up as pastor and what he learned from it. One time he went to visit a dying member, a saint in the church, and talked to him about the afterlife, about what is to come, and about his faith. And the man said, “I have no fear. I know I am going on to God’s love.” And Willimon said something that’s right out of the pastor book: “Yes, we all have a sure and certain hope in the kingdom of God and the future afterlife,” or something like that.

And the man said gently, “It’s not because of my hope that I have no fear.” “What do you mean? The promise of eternal life is not your hope?” “No, no. Oh, it’s nice. But my faith is based on my life that I’ve lived throughout. You see, no matter what has happened, no matter what screw-ups have gone on, no matter how far away I’ve run from God, no matter what has gone wrong in my life and in the culture and the church and in my house and all that, God has come and got me. God has found a way to me. God has redeemed me. God has reached out. I see, as I look back, I can see God’s working his purpose out. And I know that such a God, that works so hard to get through so much to get to me in my life here, will not let a thing like death stop him from loving me eternally.”

Strive to see how God sees. When things look hopeless, when there doesn’t seem to be anything, figure out the question and ask, “Are all your sons here? Are there any others?” Find out what hidden purpose God is working at, and know that God is working his purpose out, and look and see the works of God’s kingdom.

William Gibson says, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” Same with God’s kingdom. There’s little pieces of it here and there and over here and over there. And if you just take a glance, you’ll miss it. You’ve got to see how God can see. Be that prayer. See people always. See the world always as God sees.


Easy on the Eyes mp3


God and King

How To Escape Slavery

In this recorded sermon, from 1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15 I talk about how putting anyone or anything but God on the throne as your king leads to slavery.

God and King mp3


Elders Assemble! My Top 5 Pittsburgh Presbyterian General Assembly Events

220th Presbyterian General Assembly Logo

Walk, Run, Soar to these General Assembly events!

The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA comes to Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convection Center beginning Saturday, June 30th. 

Most of the news before the assembly are the issues that the commissioners decide while the special events that happen when the Presbyterian tribe gathers are overlooked.

There is a list of events available, but here are the ones I want to make sure I attend and recommend all visitors enjoy with me:

1. Opening Worship Saturday, June 30th, 1:30 PM

Our outgoing modeator, Cindy Bolbach, will be preaching before over four thousand Presbyterians including over 300 choir members. There will be new songs and old hymns brought to life by a jazz group, an organ, piano, bagpiper, bell ringers and a brass quintet. Liturgical dancers and a procession of church servants and Presbytery banners from across the county is a anthem of praise for the eyes. Communion is shared bringing together Presbyterians from all over the map geographically and theologically. A glorious time at the assembly.

 2. Moderator’s Election Saturday, June 30th, 7:00 PM

Presbyterians do not run for election. We have four standing for election this year: the Rev. Robert Austell Jr. of Charlotte Presbytery; the Rev. Randy Branson of Palo Duro Presbytery; the Rev. Sue Krummel of Great Rivers Presbytery; and the Rev. Neal Presa of Elizabeth Presbytery. It isn’t the race that attracts me, after all they don’t run, but the standing, hearing why these folks are ready to give up two years to travel and represent the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the church and the world.

Those attending in person and via the live stream, can hear the hopes and visions of not only these teaching elders, formerly known as Ministers of Word and Sacrament, but also the folks that nominate them, the vice moderator candidates and their nominators. Candidates will respond to commissioners questions and to the responses of other candidates in a swirl of humor, passion, vision, memories and dreams that always makes me go deeper and wider in my own faith and understanding.

3. General Assembly Breakfast Monday, July 2 7:00 am

A sleeper event, (meaning rookies miss this because of the early hour) this breakfast has outstanding guests speaking from the heart directly to the commissioners and advisory delegates. This year we are joined in morning prayers with thoughts from Brian D. McLaren author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. While the continental breakfast is free to commissioners as a group meal, it is $22 for the rest of us. BUT! There is no charge for those coming to the presentation only. This is what people will be talking about through the week, miss some sleep instead of this presentation.  

4. Mr. Rogers’ Tribute Concert Tuesday, July 3 3:30 PM

Often a group will commission a special event for General Assembly. This year Presbyterian Media Mission welcomes Presbyterians to their home base with an open house and free concert featuring Bill Carter performing the music of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood at the nearby Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. The concert is at 4 PM and will last for about 45 minutes.  Admission is free, but a suggested donation of $5 would be appreciated.  The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum is located at 10 Childrens Way, Allegheny Center.  Tours of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Museum items will be available after the concert.


 5. Witherspoon Dance  Tuesday, July 3,  8:00 pm–1:00 am

Compared with the GA breakfast ticket costing $22, the $20 price for a 5 hour dance is a bargain! The Omni William Penn Ballroom four blocks from the convention center at 530 William Penn Place is the site for the Witherspoon Dance. No sermons, no resolutions, no overtures, just folks gathering together connecting around dancing to loud music and a little food, while sharing adult beverages and conversation. Even if you don’t stay until 1 AM, you will find someone you know or should know at this event.


Hope to see you at the General Assembly. I’ll be at the Presbyterian Media Mission booth in the Exhibit Hall, tweeting @christyramsey, taking texts and calls at 330-PROVERB (776-8372) and resting my weary head at Candlewood Suites near the airport.