COMMAnts from the Conference Minister – February, 2017

FAITHFULNESS IN THESE DAYS

How is God calling me right now? How can I be most faithful?

I have had countless conversations over the last few months that have all contained some version of these heartfelt questions.  Even in ‘normal’ times, these questions are important ones of faithful discernment.  These days, though, there’s an urgency that is markedly different. Whether these questions are being asked by clergy, lay persons, Conference Minister colleagues, or national staff members, all of us seem overwhelmed with what feels like social upheaval to many of us.  It’s causing us to carefully examine how we are being called in new ways in “such a time as this”. And we really want to get it right.

I celebrate this kind of intentional discernment of our individual and collective calls to service and discipleship.  It’s deep, important, faithful work in which all of us should engage.  Especially now.  Because this is indeed a time that needs us to bring our best and whole selves.

Less than two weeks into a new administration in the White House, we are being bombarded by new policies and attitudes that assault many of the bedrock values of our nation and core tenets of our faith.  It’s enough to make your head spin……..and your heart literally ache.

So what are we to do?  How are we to respond as people of faith in this time?  And how can we tend to our souls along the way?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Choose your issue(s) and be steadfast about them. None of us can be passionate and authentic advocates on every single issue that touches our hearts.  We can try, but exhaustion will quickly get the best of us and we’ll inevitably fall short.  Figure out what you’re most passionate about, or what most deeply affects your community, and concentrate your efforts there.
  • Don’t try to go it alone. This is a time for all of us to strengthen our networks, build new collaborations in our communities, and leave our “lone ranger” selves behind.  Who else in your community cares about the same issue? What other church can you partner with? Who are the colleagues you can turn to for strength and encouragement along the way?  And how can the Conference and our staff support you?  This is a perfect time to strengthen your connections to colleagues and the wider church.  I’d love to hear from you about the ways you need the Conference to accompany you in your work.
  • Dig deep spiritually. Remember as you engage in whatever issues you choose that you are a person of faith. Our Facebook post recently listing Biblical references to immigrants and refugees got a huge  amount of attention.  That tells me that you’re hungry to meaningfully connect your faith to your passion for justice.  Rely on the lessons of our faith and the disciplines of our faith to sustain your spirit over the long haul.  Call on God’s wisdom and help daily, remembering that you are a partner with God in the work. Attending to your spirit is essential to remaining healthy and grounded in the life-giving but daunting work of doing justice and loving kindness.  Don’t forget the third part of the equation:  walk humbly with God.  (Micah 6:8)
  • Build some bridges.  These are tumultuous times.  Acrimony seems on the rise in our country…and perhaps we see that close-up in our churches, our communities, and families.  Find ways to make connections with those whose opinions differ from yours.  Seek real understanding.  Reflect in your own relationships the kind of community and mutual respect you long for in the world.  Let it start with you.

Let us hold each other in unwavering prayer, as each of us discerns how it is that God is calling us in this unique and challenging moment.  Be faithful.  Be brave.  Be loving.  Be the Church!

With you on the journey,

 

 

Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister