small gifts of light and insight...

Yesterday was a time of revelation for me. It came in small, random and nearly
unnoticeable bite size pieces, but come it did and I am grateful. As I think about it, these insights were a lot like receiving the host at Eucharist - ordinary words made holy by trust and faith - not enough for a whole meal but truly food for the journey.

The first came in a ministry team conversation after all the "work" was done. A colleague said something like: There are so many people I know and care about who have loved ones sick or hurting that I don't have time or room for the people who are just complaining. Ok, that isn't an exact quote, but it is what I heard as revelation. I know I have been feeling the same way - especially given the complications and uncertainties with Dianne's pain - but I needed to hear those words articulated in a way that they could become flesh for me. I left our gathering with a sense of relief.

Then we went into a larger meeting in which I led the elected lay leadership of the congregation in an extended conversation grounded in six questions:

+  What events, acts of service or experiences at First Church bring you joy?  Fill you with satisfaction?  Give you a sense of hope?

+  What experiences suck the life out of you?

+  What events at First Church do you invite others to participate in – and why?

+  What is your deepest fear or concern about our congregation at this moment in time?

+  What is one thing we can do to help others participate in our ministries? Are all our ministries necessary?

+  What is your deepest commitment/conviction to serving God at First Church – and why?

There was a lot of laughter about the first - some truly candid and insightful replies about the second - and hushed comments and not a few tears about some of the others. It was a tender time of honest reflection about where we are as a faith community and where God may be calling us. Next month I'll lead our opening conversation in a quest for discernment. It will be Advent and I know that will shape our hearts, too.

At the close of the day I sensed I should flip the appointed Psalm for Sunday and chose Psalm 85 instead.  Robert Alter writes that given God's mercy, compassion, call to community and shalom, the ancient rabbis envisioned a day when the people of the Promised Land would actually walk about kissing and embracing one another in gratitude. We're a distance from that dream in our small community - and God knows it seems impossible in Israel currently - but the promise and hope is sweet.

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