Our Moderator, Right Rev. Gary Patterson
woke this morning to the sound of church bells. It is too early to be awake but I somehow that bell reminded me that all the preparation everything that had come before today leading to the start of Greenbelt. Our moderator Gary Patterson lead us in some reflections on what it means to be on pilgrimage. What stood out for me was that it was not only about the journey to the place but about returning home. It is our calling as pilgrims to gather up as many ideas, as many new insights as we can so that we can lead to church in ever new directions but also care for the church as it currently is. In my cohort group we talked a lot about the fact that the church is no longer what it once was and we need to grieve that loss but we also need to embrace the new ways to gather as faith communities. Not an easy task.
Another thing that stood out for me was talking about the narratives of church life. One of the prevailing ones is that the church is dying. That people have no interest in the church and the other Is that the Church is showing signs of life and that the Christian faith is being lived out I ever new ways. I believe that the latter is true. From the time I first entered seminary, now over 15 years ago people have been telling me that the church is dying and that I won't have a job in 20 years. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. Church is going to change and it may not look the same but there is a core, the good news of Jesus will remain. So I hope and I continue as our moderator today said to collect pollen in the hope that the message of God's live continues to be shared and lived out.
After gathering as a group and sharing stories we headed out to the racecourse for the first talk of the day. I went to hear Barbara Brown Taylor speaking about the importance of the language we use when we speak in the church. That we are In danger of setting up things in opposition to one another that really need to co-exist. We need to find the sacred in the everyday act of living. There was a lot to digest in speech.
The next talk I attended was a panel discussion once purpose of marriage. There were thoughts shared on the difference between a wedding and a marriage. A marriage is a process that we grow into over time and a wedding is the day we mark it. Many commented this the church could do better in equipping couples with the skills needed for good marriages. The image that stays with me was when John Bell quoted from Ecclesiastes saying they we are meant to live in relationship and it is a three strand cord between the couple and God.
The day closed with the tolling of the bell reminding me that it is time to rest.