by Rev. Joe Bettridge

I remember being in 4th-grade Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma and how our teacher brought out her flannel graph. In the 1950s, a flannel graph was a visual learning tool. It consisted of a sticky piece of cloth to which you could attach other fabrics to make pictures. And so she put a heart on the flannel graph that was broken, scarred, and dirty. And then, on top of that heart, she placed a red heart. “This red heart,” she said, is the blood of Jesus Christ that absorbs all the brokenness in our sin-damaged heart. And then she put a bright yellow heart over the red heart and said, “This is what your new heart is like when it is filled with the light of God because His Holy Spirit is dwelling in you.” And at that moment, I had an intense awareness that everything she told us was true. And I believed it.  

Over 50 years ago,  when I was in seminary, I read Jonathan Edward’s sermon, A Divine and Supernatural Light. And I began to understand that my 4th-grade Sunday School experience was more than an interaction between a teacher and a student, but that God had imparted a divine supernatural light to me at that moment. Edward wrote:

       “There is a beauty so divine, that it is [distinguished] from things merely human, or that men are the inventors of a glory that is so high and great, that when clearly seen, commands our assent to their divinity and reality.”

In my workshop during the Edwards conference, we will take a closer look at  Edwards’ famous sermon and examine our own spiritual experiences as Christians. We will talk about our doubts and questions but also how the divine and supernatural light of Jesus Christ is experienced in our lives.

In 2018 Joe completed 46 years of pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church USA and is now an honorably retired Northwest Coast Presbytery member. Joe came to faith in the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma and was spiritually nurtured at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. He has served long-term pastorates in Alaska, Arizona, and recently in Friday Harbor, WA. Joe graduated from Stadium High in Tacoma and the University of Washington. He received his Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Doctorate of Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary.



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *