How good and pleasant it is...

Last night we met - we broke bread with one another, laughed, prayed, shared stories and questions from scripture - and began to discern what God might be saying to us amidst our financial concerns. It was tender and sacred, honest and hope-filled, blessed and awkward all at the same time.

After a simple but elegant supper, we gathered for conversation: our moderator - a bright, sensitive woman of great depth - began with an example of her on-going, maturing faith journey. She ended with an invitation to help all of our church - this group and others - try to claim and live into the presence of Christ who is within and among us whenever we gather. You could see how deeply this touched the others: trust and hope was palpable.

Next I invited the folk to share a story or passage from scripture about how you hear God speaking to us at this moment in time - and this, too, was sweet. The stories included hearing God's invitation to see the light in the darkness; a call to discover the hidden Christ walking with us on our own Emmaus Road; a reminder that some feel like they have been grieving the past for a long time (like those after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem) but are now finding ways to 'plant gardens and harvest them and build houses and live in them' even in a strange land; as well as words about living as Christ's body with one another and seeking joy in all things.

It was remarkable to me: no pissing and moaning, just a little fear, a heart to heart sharing by people who meet in faith. It was sacred. And they talked about how these words might become flesh - and there were lots of ideas from shared ministries/staffing with others to new ways to raise money. This, too, was both honest and healing - maybe even hopeful! And then we agreed to stay with these stories and ideas in prayer over the next few weeks before gathering again for a meal and more prayerful conversation and discernment.

Two truths became clear to me during our time together: a healing is happening among these people - and it is born of God's grace - and their encounters with joy. Their season of grieving is ending... it may be too soon to talk about dancing although one wise soul kept saying, "We need to be doing the Happy Dance big time right now!" The second is that although we are not out of the woods, this church is also committed to being creative with our money so that we advance mission and ministry not just the maintenance of a big old building. As another said, "Maybe we've gotten over our 'edifice complex!'" Hallelujah. (NOTE: to be sure, we've got staffing and funding problems to beat the band but amongst the leaders I experienced a deep trust in God's abiding grace.)

I am grateful for the prayers and notes you have shared. This song by Luka Bloom, "Don't Be Afraid of the Light That Shines Within You," comes to mind - especially this verse:

Out of the cold, dark winter space
We come together, looking for Brigid's grace
We dip our open hands deep into the well
Where our rivers run to
Who can tell, who can tell?
We warm our hearts and faces
In the heat of the burning flame
Something about our spirit
Never stays the same
Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you
Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you
Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you
Within you

All of this calls to mind the gentle Psalm 131:
O Lord my heart is not proud:
My eyes are not raised too high.
I do not occupy myself with matters too great for me;
Or with marvels that are beyond me.
For I have stilled and made quiet my soul,
Like a weaned child nestling to its mother;
So like a child, my soul is quieted within me.
O trust in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.


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