Clearer Picture

Living Table is a part of New Branches

Outdoor New Branches sign "A home for faith and community" - Depicting Spirit Catholic Community, Lake Nokomis Lutheran, and Living Table UCC; image licensed for Living Table's use

As we near the end of our sojourn together, I’ve noticed I have a much clearer picture of the path we’ve already walked than I had when we were actually walking it.

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Dear Friends,

As we near the end of our sojourn together, I’ve noticed I have a much clearer picture of the path we’ve already walked than I had when we were actually walking it. Not sure why that’s surprising to me, but – it is. This shift in my perspective was awakened when someone recently asked, “So, Reverend, are we following some kind of lectionary we don’t know about or are you just making all this up?”

The questioner was not combative – perplexed perhaps, but more curious than confrontational about how our worship during the last two and a half months has come to unfold as it has. What a great, right-to-the-heart-of-the-matter inquiry that made my soul sing! My answer? “I guess the Holy Ones and I did make it all up!” And then I attempted to describe (as much for myself as for the questioner) how we got from where we started to where we are right now.

There was no lectionary I was led to follow, but Pentecost is my most favorite high holy day and I was thrilled that would be our first Sunday together. And then there were:

the four movements of worship: Showing Up, Sinking In, Shape-Shifting, and Shining Out;

the oh, so hard teachings of Jesus about how to treat others and ourselves; and now,

the amazing compatibility of Jesus’ teachings and the now testament writing of Valarie Kaur – all of them powerful Pentecost practices for living as Followers of the Way of Jesus! It’s hard to go wrong with breath and wind and fire!

Although we do have to be vigilant about the fire part because it can’t discern the difference between weeds and wonder . . . When we humans get tangled up in the weeds of our own opinions/habits/wounds then we, too, may lose our capacity for wonder.

The result? A drought of epic proportions! A drought in which criticism, judgment, fear, and tribalism thrive like weeds and choke out the more delicate shoots of empathy and curiosity – the very fruits which enable us to listen with open hearts and minds to another we might prefer to exclude from The Holy One’s list of Beloveds. None of us is immune to the plagues that thrive in such a drought!

How do we survive? We cling to Love’s vine. We pray that The Holy Ones make it possible “for our hidden selves to grow strong. We practice. We practice judging less and loving more. We practice seeing no stranger . . . listening . . .  listening more . . . Following the Way of Jesus . . . of Jesus . . . of Love.

Thanks for even considering taking this sojourn with each other and with me.

About Elaine Kirkland

Rev. Elaine Kirkland was the sabbatical pastor for Living Table UCC during Summer 2022.

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