Seeking Wholeness, Justice, and Peace

“During the Season after Pentecost, we learn of God’s deep desire for wholeness, justice, and peace in all creation. Sometimes, following God’s lead to pursue these goals takes both vision to imagine new possibilities and courage to act. The story of David continues this week, demonstrating how much we are capable of when empowered by God.” – Seasons of the Spirit

I thought nothing much of these words as I read them on Wednesday morning in this weeks curriculum resources – sounds good.  Then I woke up Thursday morning to the news of the terror at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. God’s deep desire for wholeness, justice, and peace in all creation weeps this week for the state of our world.

I believe that there is a time for all things, as we often hear from the author of Ecclesiastes, and that this is the time for lament, for prayer vigils, and to honor the lives of the victims.  We do not always take time in our busy busy lives for lamenting.  Time to hear the deep sorrows of the people around us, of the world around us.  We need to allow ourselves to feel the emotions that arise within us and our neighbors.

Soon however, will be the time to gather our strength and courage to “put legs on our prayers”. Many have address some of the intersectionality around this situation in terms of gun control, mental health care, and most deeply – white supremacy and racial injustice.  For each of us, I believe God calls us to work with our gifts.  However I also believe that the most difficult aspect of this for many to accept is the racial injustice.  While there are many who are able to accept it, there are so many people who continue to argue that we are living in a post racial society.

How do we work for justice with those who refuse to see the injustice? How can we seek reconciliation when we were never together in the first place? Reconciliation infers that there are two now broken parts coming back together into a whole again – yet we have never been whole.  How can we seek peace without an agreed upon idea of what that peace even begins to look like?

The focus scripture of this week is David and Goliath. An interesting story, and we see stark differences of the Phillistines and David. The moral I see out of this story today is to trust in God and not be afraid when going up against something that seems impossible. The broken, corrupt, and unjust human systems that control our world today seem impossible to change or to even effect.  Yet, so many among us hear and respond to callings to tutor, to work for sustainable housing, to keep politicians accountable, and so many many other things.  As we approach our own Goliaths we know that we are not alone, our God calls us together (the people of God and the CHURCH), and that we can our trust in God.

I’m not talking about a simple trust that leaves all the work to God.  I see that as an excuse to not do the work God calls us to do.  After this tragedy, it is very normal for us to be speechless… and then to ask – what O, Lord can we do?  The prophet Micah has already given an answer: to love justice, to speak kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

God’s peace to your and yours.  May you see God’s light through the vast darkness.

~Deacon Erin

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Meaning Making

I like to think I have good listening skills. I began training as a teenager to be a facilitator and small group leader, and have had numerous opportunities over the years to study active listening and further learn and practice the difficult skill of listening.

While all the work I have put in to become a better listener I know has helped me, like so many things – without constant practice, it fades so easily. I find this especially with God. This week’s story of Samuel reminds me that I am not alone struggling to listen to God. “Give us a king” demand the people, “God is your king!” I imagine Samuel throwing up his hands in frustration for the 100th time trying to explain this.  Yet the people didn’t listen.  They didn’t want to hear it.  They wanted to be like the other countries around them and have a king.  Worse, they felt like they needed this.

So God listened.  (Even when I don’t, or we as a community don’t listen – God does) and God leads Samuel to anointing Saul as the first King of Israel.  We will see how this turns out.

Part of my story is my call to seminary. I didn’t want to hear God’s call to seminary. I was going to be a Program Director teaching non-traditional education at a camp.  Ecology, water, conservation, energy cycles, canoeing, s’mores, worship, and taking a break from life.  Important life lessons in amazing settings. Yet God called me to seminary.  I put it off for years – even moving to Cincinnati to work at an amazing camp (5 high rope-courses, 2 indoor) as 1 of 10 year round educators. It was there in the beautiful ravines of southern Ohio away from all my friends, family, and colleagues I had grown up in the church (and WI conference) that I began to really hear God calling me. I never felt more like Jonah, running from what God was asking.

Funny, I applied to Garrett while working in Ohio, yet it still took me years to get there. I went to work for the WI UMC camps for a summer, and ended up staying 3 years. I called the seminary and put off my start date time and time again, yet they were incredibly supportive and helped me eventually get registered for a few online courses.  Before I knew it, it was time to resign and follow my calling to the big scary city of Chicago. (well, Evanston, but how did I know the difference?)

Hearing the stories of the people of God, such as the Israelites demanding a King from Samuel and God – helps me to make meaning from my own story. Our narratives are so important in claiming our identities and living healthy lives. There are so many things we teach in stories and learn from stories our whole lives long. Faith stories are a big part of these lessons as we work out our own identities – especially as we claim the identity of “child of God.”

The Sunday school teachers, subs, and clergy are being asked to share a favorite bible story or passage with the children over the summer throughout our one room Sunday school. Sharing our stories and stories that have helped us to make meaning bring us closer together as a community.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity for our community to get to know each other better and look forward for the children to also have the opportunity to share their stories with the adults of our church who feel called to be in ministry with them.

In our world of constant streaming communication – status updates, articles, videos, commentary, entertainment, even work and family – sometimes with hours and days of content there can be little to no meaning. We make meaning out of our experiences, especially as children. I wish for you and your family a great weekend of meaning making experiences together, and invite you to join us to be a part of our community anytime!

Join us Sundays – 9:45-10:45 all summer long for some great stories and opportunities for us to do some meaning making!