Lent: We walk into the gathering danger & doubt surrounding Jesus as he made choices that led to the Cross.
This is a time of preparation & reflection.
Where have you been this year & where might you be going?
What are the things that have kept your journey on pause?
What are the choices you have made that you would like to revisit? A Lenten Collection
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
Oh it’s always there … we have different words now, words that try to convey that temptations are about the choices we make and when those choices separate us from God it can be understood as Sin. As Christians, as I understand it, God is experienced when we are engaged in the community, not when we are isolated. Of course that theology – that understanding – holds a lot of tension for the Emerging Spirit demographic, of which I am admittedly a part, which really does not trust the institutions that are often the formalised expression of church.
And, if we are open to some self-divulging, I have just experienced recently why we distrust those institutions. When the generations meet, informed from the assumptions of our own experiences, our own context, there can be conflict. And these meetings can feel very inhospitable…
So there I was at a meeting of the one of the levels of the Court of the United Church of Canada (there are four fwiiw: Pastoral Charge, Presbytery; Conference; and General Council). These Courts are not intended to be hierarchal, in fact when they work well; it lives out a way of being – of governance – that operates from the bottom -> up.
Winnipeg Law Courts
During this time together, the opportunity for nominations arose. The process should be a time in which people – Lay and Ordered – might come forward to share their interest, gifts and skills that might speak to the appropriateness as to why they should attend the national gathering of the United Church of Canada, known as General Council 2009. This gathering occurs every three years and attempts to be both an opportunity for spiritual renewal and one that deals with the business, governance and administration of our denomination. Of course, and I am not objective, my understanding of the process indicates my generational hope for involving those who are new … again that last sentence clearly demonstrates my struggle to be open to a different point of view…
What actually occurred, however, was a process where it felt like no one was introduced, where people who were unknown to those of us who are also new had no opportunity to speak and those who held positions of authority and notoriety took the nomination. Now do not get me wrong, this is not about WHO was chosen to attend the 2009 gathering, but rather HOW people were chosen. And the HOW seemed to overlook the gifts and skills that might offer something new. The process presumed the outcome and, I worry, denied all of us the opportunity to celebrate the desire of others to share who and with what the Creator has graced them.
So, in this time of Lent and reflection, I admit to being tempted, to withdraw from this institution of ours, for I worry that our processes are not life-giving or focused on abundance. The irony, however, is that to respond to that temptation leaves the institution without a voice of challenge. And without my voice, our voice, the assumptions of the Emerging Spirit demographic become self-fulfilling prophecy … ah the irritation of self-awareness and the ever present choice to opt-in or out … In the end, while mumbling below my breath, it all revolves around choice and to my frustration, I do not remember Jesus ever pushing someone through a door, merely pointing out that there were and are many doors on the journey of our lives…