Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where Have I Been?

I’m walking with a little jump in my step today and I want to tell you why... I just spent the last few days with some dreamers in the church and I am bursting with excitement for what God is doing among us. 

This week I was in Baltimore. I was called with various other church leaders to “talk back” to our denominational office. The structure of our church is such that the ministry and work of the church is done through 6 agencies. More information here. This conference, Six Agency Leadership Consultation Initiative (#salic13), was intended for the agencies to hear from current leaders how the structure is experienced in the church and how we can do ministry better together. 

I’m leaving this conference energized because I feel heard. I am renewed in my belief that God is still working among us and that we now have better ideas for how we can share our resources (intellectual, financial, artistic, and physical) with one another. We dreamt together about PCUSA TED talks, Craigslist for the church, church partnerships, funded sabbaticals and rest, organic new ministries found and funded quickly. We reflected on how we are called to be open... to God, to each other, and to this new reality that we experience in the church. We worshiped together and gave life and breath to words of Isaiah 43 “Do not be afraid. I have called you by name you are mine... [PAY ATTENTION] I am doing a new thing.” 

Together we practiced unity in the spirit. We opened the complexities of scarcity and abundance, fear and hope, open communication and boundaries. We encouraged one another to take risks. We reflected on sustainable ministry and medical coverage care. And through all of it, I think we really lived out our covenant of not attacking each other, but “wondering” together about each other’s stories (taking time to hear them) and then wondering together what God must be up to in this part of our story. 

The complexity I see us still struggling with (daily/yearly/eternally) is our inability to believe that tradition and change come from the same spirit. We do NOT have to give up one in order to have the other. Shawna put it well in our last reflection together... “We keep arguing about whether or not to change when that really isn’t the choice before us. The choice is how we are to live into that change.” We have been charged with the call to create and recreate the church, ourselves, our story. I think the youth of our church are leading us yet again. Last week in Montreat, the youth decided that the theme for the Montreat Youth Conference in 2014 will be “Rooted and Reaching.” We are both rooted in God’s love/our tradition AND called to reach beyond ourselves and change, simultaneously.

I fly home today excited to be back with my congregation. Excited to share this good news that the national church is listening and encouraging us to try new things. To be bold in our listening and acting out God’s call on our lives and to to trust that the larger church goes with us...supporting us. I share the message with the church at large that “Louisville is Listening”...share you creative ideas and dreams for ministry with them. 

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