Thinking Positively!

Good Morning!

Yesterday I read an article that someone posted a link to on Facebook. It was written by an ordained Minister who has served the church for 36 years. In it he talks about all the things that are wrong with the institutional church. As I read I realized that I was experiencing a number of emotions. My first reaction was sadness. I felt sad that someone could have served the church for so long and be left in such a negative place. I could not help but wonder why and how he remained for so long if there was nothing life-giving about his ministry. I’m not certain what to call the second feeling, perhaps it was frustration or tiredness. I am so tired of only reading about the things that are wrong with religion, or the state of the church or life in ministry. I’m tired of being drawn into the shroud that seems to cover so many who are in positions of leadership. How can the church be anything but negative if it is surrounded by so much negativity?  There are always moments of challenge and conflict and uncertainty whenever there is a group of people gathered together. The fact that each of us comes from different life experiences, that we have different ways of learning, that we have different ways of expressing ourselves and different ways of interacting is bound to cause some moments of friction and misunderstanding. On the other hand, there are those moments of great joy! The fact that when there is a group of people gathered together who share a common bond there is always someone to share the journey with, always someone to cry with, always someone to laugh with, always someone to pray with and yes, always someone to fight with.

I have been so blessed in this journey of faith! Each community that I have joined has provided me with such grace and my community of faith just keeps getting bigger. I don’t know what I would have done without my faith family particularly in those moments of great trial in my life. Most of my moments of greatest joy have also been among those who have become my brothers and sisters. I remember sitting in the office with my partner in ministry and laughing so hard that we both ended up in tears. I remember standing in the front of our worship space and being held in such love as I presided over the funeral for a dear friend. I remember stories shared over cups of tea. I remember disagreements at church meetings and the hugs that followed. I remember a community mobilized in response to a natural disaster half way around the world. As I remember I feel the power and the presence of God and know that I have walked with Jesus.

So today I give thanks! I give thanks for all those who know me and love me just the same; for those who have covenanted to journey with me, even when we disagree; for those who, by their actions, everyday embody the Christ for me; for those who give me strength; for those who pray with me; for those I know very well and those whose lives are just now being opened to me. And I give thanks for my church. A church that is open and inclusive; that encourages me to question and doubt; that invites us all to sit at table together regardless of our theological understandings; and that challenges all who choose to join to seek justice, resist evil, live with respect in creation and be the body of Christ in the world.

Blessings, 

Valerie

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