By the time this edition of the Chimes hits your inbox or mailbox, the Session will have met and gotten updates about the Mission Study Task Force. The people who have said yes to serving on the MSTF will be gathering and choosing dates to meet and to conduct the various pieces of our study time. It looks like this will be an energizing and productive summer for us.
The premise for our work together is this: all of us are in relationship with God, who is ever more ready to communicate with us than we are to listen. God is also ever more ready to bestow grace on us than we are to receive it. This God is also willing to offer us direction and perspective if and when we are ready to surrender our willfulness and be open to receiving such direction. The reluctant part- ner in all this is never God.
At the very heart of the Christian faith lies one fundamental question: how can we understand and live out the will of God? When Jesus sought a way to identify who was of the family of God, he deter- mined that a member of the family is whoever does the will of God (Mark 3:35). And when he was in agony in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal, his prayer was simply and profoundlythat God’s will be done (Mark 14:35). This desire, this longing to seek to do God’s will, is called “discernment” and is a hallmark of the Christian faith.
As Presbyterians, we believe that the will of God is discerned as we gather with each other. No one person knows fully the will of God, but each of us can glimpse an understanding of what God de- sires. By sharing these understandings in the community of faith, we can enable the wisdom and way of God to emerge among us and build a consensus about what is the will of God for UPC for this time and place. Another way to answer what the will of God is for UPC right now is the answer the ques-tions of “who are we” and “what does God want us to do”?
Nothing is more potent than a group of people who hold a vision in common. I bet when UPCcame to say “We grow and nurture followers of Christ in a welcoming community” you were reallyexcited! I love the banners around the church that include the words that tell us what it takes to grow and nurture followers. I suspect that our time of discernment will serve both to confirm and amplify this identity and provide us ways to live into it more deeply. This means not only identifying our great strengths and building on them, but also honestly naming our greatest weaknesses and working at correcting them. For instance, we already know, as a Session, that we need to do a better job of communicating.
I’m excited to see what we will learn in these coming months and hope for your whole heartedparticipation.
Blessings, Rev. Laura