TGIF June 1, 2018
As I write this, I am sitting a round cloth covered table, decorated with beautiful symbols of the Christian faith, inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. The Annual General Meeting of the BC Conference (BC area) of the United Church of Canada is underway, the meeting (May 31 – June 3) where we do the business of the church as well as worship, fellowship, and growing together in Scriptural reflection. The meeting culminates in a Sunday morning worship where candidates are ordained to Christ’s ministry in the Untied Church.
What I am Trusting
Today I am trusting the United Church of Canada. As I look around me at 400 or so faithful ministry personnel and lay people giving of their time in a chilly conference ballroom to ensure the continued good practices of the church, I cannot help but feel hopeful for the future. As we argue about discuss re-structuring, region-naming, proposals etc., I feel the hearts of these people all around me working together, trusting in and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the unknown future trusting our Scriptural witness that tells us God is making all things new.
What I am Grateful For
Well friends, Sunday morning I will be ordained, and I am feeling so very, very full of gratitude. I began this journey in 2007 when I slipped up and let my friend Carmen know that I had felt God’s call (a secret I had been previously keeping quite well). Carmen promptly told another minister who encouraged me to ask my church for a discernment committee, a group who came around me in prayer and wondering to figure out just what God had in mind. After 18 months, to my surprise (and perhaps dismay!) we discerned that God’s call was to Ordained Ministry in the United Church of Canada. I began my Master’s program in 2010, and graduated in May of this year with my children, family, and many, many friends cheering me on.
I am so thankful that the United Church recognizes my call and has supported me through my training and formation to join in this long and ancient lineage of servants of Christ’s church.
What Inspires Me
This morning our 400+ cohort was led in worship by the Children at Conference: the 30 (or so) 7 to 13-year olds gathered to grow in faith and understanding of the workings of the church. WOW. What a worship it was. Thoughtful, heartfelt, honest, Trinitarian, theologically grounded, fun, creative, vulnerable. I am inspired by the faithful (and too often unsung) leaders of our children in the church who spend their lives teaching and unpacking our ancient stories of faith, ensuring that they are rooted in the love of God known to us through Jesus, and build community in new and creative ways. I am made confident in the present reality (not future) of the church when I hear the prayers of these young Christians and I hope that you will join me in learning faith from children.
How I am Practicing My Faith
God is the #1 relationship in my life: it is not my spouse, it is not my children. And in order to live that priority, I need to spend time with God. All the time, every day. Prayer and meditation are key elements of my day-to-day life. Nobody likes a friend who only talks to them when the poop hits the fan, but we appreciate the friends who chat with us, share their highs and lows with us, and genuinely listen to what we have to say. I try to be best friends with God. AND I am forgetful and busy and distracted and lazy. Yesterday, at the retreat for new ordinands, my “prayer alarm” went off in the midst of my sharing in the talking circle. That’s right, I set alarms at intervals through the day to remind me to pray. Because I want it to be my highest priority, but I am not just naturally inclined to do that. So, because I need some help with discipline, I set these alarms, and bells ring out from my desk, from in my purse, from the bottom of the beach bag, on my night stand, and I stop what I am doing to connect with God. Sometimes its just a ‘Hi God, thanks.’ Sometimes I light a candle and read from one of many books of prayers stashed about my home, office, or car. Sometimes I am driving, sometimes on my knees, on the beach, folding laundry, walking the dog, sitting outside the church with the folks who come for lunch each day. But when I stop whatever I am doing to acknowledge the Creator of the Universe who so loved this creation that they had to thrown on skin and hang out for a while and lives and moves in each one of us, I am better and the world is better because in that instant I pause to notice the volumes of love that surround us, always.