come to us and shared our common lot...

The Ash Wednesday preacher reminded us: We enter an observance of a Holy Lent in... community. Yes, there are personal aspects to our practice of prayer, study and sharing love; but this is always grounded and shaped by the life of our faith community. When was this wisdom discarded, buried and forgotten?

This year I am in a teaching conversation with my worship community re: the gift of shared spiritual formation given to us in the United Church of Christ's "Statement of Faith." There is no way of knowing whether this will have legs, but in these last days of pastoral ministry I sense an urgency to try. This will likely be my last Lent in this office. I don't practice fortune telling, so I don't know this for certain, but it is highly likely to be so. And as I go out, I want to share with others the same passion and verve that I was welcomed in to this tradition. 

Since 1957 I have been shaped by the ecumenical path of Reformed Christianity celebrated the essence of faith as noted in these old words:

God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin... In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot... God binds us in covenant with faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races... calling us to accept the cost and joy of discipleship as servants in the service of all... to all who trust, God promises forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in God's kingdom which has no end.
Over the years this faith statement has been refined. Thankfully there are versions where the outdated exclusive language has been repaired, too. Such is the just and necessary new light we have seen as new occasions teach us new truth. Four phrases continue to resonate deep within my soul and my commitment to the community of Christ: 1) save all people from aimlessness and sin; 2) come to us and shared our common lot; 3) binds in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues and races; and 4) promises forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace.  What more could we ask for during Lent 2015 than salvation from aimlessness and sin by a God who not only comes to us, but shares our common lot? This old poem of faith is saturated with Bonhoeffer and I hope it communicates with my community.

To deepen being a Lenten communicate within the wider Body of Christ this year, I am reading Henri Nouwen's last book, Adam: God's Beloved, as part of an on-line reflection community; as well as The Paradox of Disability, a reflection on Jean Vanier's L'Arche Community in anticipation of my visit to L'Arche Ottawa at the end of this month. 

Two closing reflections on this Sunday. As I was preparing to give a bass
lesson to one of the young people after worship, I was asked by a young mother:  Are children welcome at midday Eucharist? It was one of those beautiful pure requests that caught me off guard. And as I paused to listen to my heart I found myself smiling and replying:  Of course... this is Christ's open table. Truth be told, children have never come to this setting; it has tended to be a quiet, adult gathering. But of late, a few people with special needs and intellectual disabilities have joined us. The feast has changed and become more complete - all the more so with little ones. I hope this happens!

About twenty minutes later, during our bass lesson, the young student put his hands on the strings in an odd configuration and asked:  Is THIS a chord? It made me think of something the jazz masters in Nashville told me: Man, there are NO wrong notes, just some choices are better than others. So I said: You bet that's a chord, some are just more satisfying than others. He smiled and our lesson continued and now next Sunday he will be playing with us "Bless the Lord, My Soul" from the Taize songbook. Some days are better than others, too but all are connected to the One who has come to us, shared our common lot and saves us from aimlessness and sin.


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