“That felt just like Revival!” she said to me during that in-between-time that is a United Church of Canada fellowship gathering. A space after a service in which there is more food than the wandering of Moses and the Exiles could eat. Where people linger longer than anticipated. A time when smiles are shared, sometimes truths are spoken unreservedly in the midst of communal publicity, and when new friends are met and old ones embraced. And that – Dear Readers – was the catalyst for this week’s musing!
For those who do not know, this wee experiment called The United Church of Canada (UCC) is experiencing change – perhaps fundamental. Often, we whisper our opinions, avoid eye contact and most definitely do not gather with others from outside our clan. Sometimes it feels like we have been holding our collective breath for two years and this August 8th – just maybe – we will exhale and once again notice the Spirit’s ever present dance. Last Sunday – however – was a most pleasant challenge to a narrative of avoidance – in might even be called a Revival!
This last Sunday I was gifted to be with two UCC congregations that came together to worship. Not just any two congregations, but ones from different Presbytery’s (Church-speak for municipality-esque). Not just any two congregations from different Presbyteries, but one rural and one urban. Not just any two congregations, but one that is the oldest UCC congregation in the province of Manitoba (Little Britain) & the other (Kildonan) that is the last most northwestern UCC before one leaves Winnipeg. A congregation surrounded by a growing population and development.
Into this faith community’s building (which dates to 1874) we gathered. Being held by stones that remember lives and memories, tears and joys, music and harmony we crammed in. And – lest there be naysayers out there – the organ rang true as we sang with richness, clapped our hands and even stomped and danced! A Message was shared that threaded our journeys into a collective vision and … of course there was food!
We’re built with old bones, this experiment of ours. Dating to 1925, we – as the UCC – stand on shoulders that have been brave and courageous. In changing times, those whom we follow embraced union over dissolution. They saw commonality where others might see division. Last Sunday – for a moment – was a revival not of institutions or polity, process or governance: it was a reminder that it is in community faith is lived out. In places of worship, men and women are emboldened to leave safety of the hearth to offer care, advocacy and justice to those for whom such a privilege is a distant taunt, a longing for hope …
I’m leaving on holidays next week, with but one musing left before then. How these old UCC bones might be reimagined and reborn is anyone’s bet. But here’s what I know, in these bones are beauty: