By God’s Side: August 19, 2020

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

August 19, 2020

Pittsburgh is a community of neighborhoods – something in which we take great pleasure and pride, since each one has its own distinctive flavor. Our brilliantly talented area artist Ron Donoughe has painted all ninety of the city’s neighborhoods, bringing out what makes each one special. The richness of color and shape suggests the richness of blessings the community receives from the people who live in each one. In addition to saying we are a community of neighborhoods, I also have noticed that Pittsburgh is a city of ends and sides. East End and West End, North Side (yes, I know that the fancier term “North Shore” is now in vogue) and South Side. How two directions on the compass became ends, while the other two became sides, is a puzzle the historians might be able to solve. No matter, it makes me think of the fact that the Christian faith has both “Ends” and “Sides.”

Regarding our Presbyterian branch of world Christendom, we have what are called “The Great Ends of the Church” – not the East End or the West End. They are:

  1. the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
  2. the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
  3. the maintenance of divine worship;
  4. the preservation of the truth;
  5. the promotion of social righteousness; and
  6. the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

If you think of specific things that we as Shadyside Presbyterian Church do, they will fit into those Great Ends. We are formed by our convictions, and we seek to fulfill these “Ends” in Jesus’ name. As far as “The Great Sides of the Church,” I have not heard that phrase used. So we can coin it by saying that, like a coin, there are two “Sides” to it: one is to be by God’s side (as is the focus of this weekly column); the other is to be by the side of God’s children. “The Great Sides of the Church” are not opposites. When we are by God’s side, that puts us immediately also alongside God’s own people, both to share in witness and to offer support. North Side and South Side meet and merge, at the center of who we are, when we pursue “The Great Sides of the Church.”

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.