Friday, September 14, 2018
This week was a medley of ministry, and full of reminders of why it is a gift to serve with you here. It is also an ongoing gift to work with Scott, and to continue the various introductions. I won’t take you through the whole week, but today (Thursday) was dubbed our meal day – as in, we started the day in Vineland at a Pastors’ Breakfast (more on that another time, maybe), and then showed up for lunch in St. Catharines with 5 other UCC colleagues from the general area. The latter meal was another in a series of informal gatherings we began last year, and I’m happy to say it remains nourishing in body, mind, and spirit.
This particular lunch we did as we usually do… we got to know each other a bit more/introduced some new colleagues; we shared life updates and stories, reminded each other of why we need each other, and why we need the strength of our congregations; and we laughed, often and probably loudly. At the end of it all, in setting our next gathering, we also decided it might be time to give ourselves a group name. In these closing months of our present UCC structure, and looking ahead to our life in Regions and Clusters, we’ve decided that somehow we’re heading in the direction of a Cluster, even if our primary reason for gathering is thus far centred on support. In the search for a name, we tossed around some options – and in the process had to ask ourselves how we wished to be seen or known. What is our definable point of connection? We’ve crossed existing Presbytery lines. We’re also all over the map in experience and background. We’re spread across 4 decades in age. And our home lives are very varied. All put that way, you’d wonder how we find the camaraderie that we do.
In the end, and at least for now, we’ve opted to call ourselves after the geographical line that seems most consistent. It also happens to coincide with where we will meet next time. Before then, and hopefully long after, I suspect that process of self-identifying is the piece that might give me most to ponder. Collegial strength appreciated but aside, there is something about any working through of identity – individual or collective – that, done mindfully, invites more than navel-gazing. There is something vital about reflecting on who we believe ourselves to be, how we communicate that to those around us, and how we share the truths we think we’ve come to know along the way. It can be a delicate balance of certainty and openness; of holding to self-belief in the face of others’ perceptions; and holding fast to the belief that God never stops believing in us and our potential to see the world from God’s point of view.
Perhaps that’s all a bit much for a monthly lunch, or even a Sunday morning… but it’s all too important not to try.
With love to you all,
“This is a challenge to all of us, as the church in every generation struggles
not only to think but to live from God’s point of view in a world where such a thing is madness.”
(N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, p. 112)