“You call us into the church…
to accept the cost and joy of discipleship,
to be your servants in the service of others,
to proclaim the Gospel to all the world,
and resist the powers of evil,
to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table,
to join him in his passion and victory.”
As the 29th General Synod of the United Church of Christ will gather soon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, these words from the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith have been rising within me. Soon folks from all around the United Church of Christ will gather to discern how God is moving in our midst and calling us to express and live out the Gospel. (https://www.ucc.org/about-us_what-we-believe)
I shared recently with our delegates that I feel it is vitally important for us to remember the call we have been given by God, as articulated in the Statement of Faith, as a way of grounding ourselves in something larger than just the immediate issues of the day, even as urgent as they are.
This statement implies some vital (as in life-giving) affirmations and questions. First, we are called. We did not think up the church. It is God who forms us, lures us, shapes us into something that is more than the sum of the parts.
Second, this call is a gift that has compelling questions attached to it. Here are a few that have risen up within me: What am I willing to give up in order to discover the joy God intends? In what way am I being called beyond myself for the strengthening of others? What is the shape of the Good News as it has visited my life and in what way can I invite others to a discovery of this love? Where am I being called to resist that which resists Love? In what way is God’s newness of life in baptism drenching my thinking and my being? Who is not at the table and how can I personally invite them? In other words, how am I willing to risk being vulnerable in order to make safer the vulnerability of others? What in me needs to die in order to make space for God’s resurrection delight to rise up in victory?
These are not small questions, nor is the list complete. Likely you have your own set. This month as the General Synod gathers to again offer a voice to the church, my prayer is that we will be attentive to such questions in ways that open us up to God’s promised, ever-present Holy Spirit and its power to form the human family and the whole creation for flourishing and joy.
I ask you to hold our delegates in prayer and even to view some of the Synod online if you will not be able to be there in person. You can find out about all things Synod by going to https://www.synod2019.org/en/uccsynod2019. Following Synod, we will be sharing ways in which you can hear from our delegates about the voice which Synod is offering for our shared journey in this season of our life together. This is one of the important ways we can attend to God’s move of love in our lives.
I do have one final plea. We are in need of some additional financial support for our delegates. Their consent to this time of service also requires of them a sacrifice of their own resources. I am hope that this could be shared among us. If you or your church are able to offer a gift of support, I encourage you to go to our website, www.ohioucc.org and make a donation. Please know how deeply grateful I am for your kindness and generosity. May the light of Christ shine through us all so that the world may discover an alternative to the despair so prevalent in this day and time in which we live.
-Blessings, Pastor Dave