Rev. Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor
Our Church Council has been taking up some very important work in the last several months.
We are having small group discussions around how we as a congregation emerge from this pandemic a more vital and faithful congregation.
Our discussion is being guided by five questions or considerations:
1) Set aside time and space to grieve and lament:
- What have we lost?
- What can we name that’s slipping away?
2) What is our “Why?”
- How do we restate our central purpose?
- What difference is God calling us to make?
3) How do we reintroduce ourselves to our neighbors?
- Who can teach us what we need to know?
- What wisdom is resident and available in the community?
4) How can we redistribute power?
- How can we (re)enact the priesthood of all believers?
- How do we live more deeply into and out of our baptismal vows?
5) How do we expand our imagination?
- What are the impediments to starting things that might fail?
- How do we identify the differences between “adaptation” and “innovation?”
- How do we discern between healthy innovation and innovation for its own sake?
The first consideration is one of the most difficult.
Our culture isn’t comfortable with grief and loss.
The values of continual growth and prosperity are prominent in our models of working and living.
The Christian story, however, is one that has death at its center – the death of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross.
On one side of that death is “life as usual.”
On the other side is life transformed – resurrection and new life.
To walk the road of transformation is to enter into that dark valley of the “shadow of death” and allow the Spirit of the Resurrected Christ to rework us and make us anew.
No wonder we often resist the central part of our story. It’s hard work. It hurts.
This is where lament comes in – the expression of our sadness and grief.
One writer describes lament this way:
“When we hurt physically, we cry out in pain; when we hurt religiously, we cry out in lament. Lamentation can be described as a loud, religious ‘Ouch!’”
“Lament is not a failure of faith, but an act of faith. We cry out directly to God because deep down we know that our relationship with God counts; it counts to us and it counts to God.”
(from franciscanmedia.org; “Biblical Laments: Prayer Out of Pain”)
Our Church Council has begun giving voice to lament through the use of a Wailing Cross.
We have deployed the cross we use for the Lenten and Easter seasons.
It is set up in our Garden Room with expressions of grief, sadness and lament written on little colored pieces of paper and then attached to the cross.
You are invited to cast your sadness and grief on the Wailing Cross.
There are materials at the Welcome Center in the Garden Room for your use in doing so.
The expressions are your own and are confidential.
After a season, we will remove the Wailing Cross and give praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s provision and care during this time of transition and change.
And we will pray that God’s will and way will guide us into a more vital and faithful future.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30.5b NRSV