We’ve been meeting for more than a year now, and I am sure people wonder why it is that we aren’t yet done. But I am here to tell you, there is a reason for every step we have taken to walk this path of discernment.
A disclaimer about discernment: as the United Church of Christ says, “God is still speaking,“ so in some ways discernment is an open-ended process that is never finished. It is kind of like our faith lives that are a journey without a destination, but rather an intent to grow closer to God. On the other hand, humans are finite, and we can only handle so much information and so much work before we feel overwhelmed and give up. So when we are discerning God’s vision/God’s will we must find a place to end our definition or we will never get to work.
In our work there seem to be two things that are foundational and that build strength in the Vision God is calling us to live: relationship and service. Funny how these two active practices are foundational to our congregation and also to Christ’s ministry. Or maybe funny is not the word…maybe it is exactly right that this is the path we are following.
In Luke 10 Jesus is tested by a lawyer to answer the question, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ In classic form Jesus answers his question with a question, ‘what do you read in the scriptures?’ The lawyer says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ (v.27) Jesus responds, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ (v.28) But the lawyer was not finished. The scripture says the lawyer wanted to justify himself when he asked, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ (v.39) Jesus responds by telling the story of the Good Samaritan.
This discernment process has been intentional. We have sought God’s voice in the scriptures, in prayer, and through one another. The passage above is a reminder of how building relationships with God and with others is a crucial act of faith; a risky but necessary act of living in faith. It is also a reminder that our purpose as the body of Christ is to serve all humanity. Who is our neighbor? Even our enemy is our neighbor. As Christians we must build relationship and we must serve all.
Very soon the vision team will be putting together the plan for presenting the Vision Statement; the first goal in our work towards a strategic plan for ministry. Once the statement is accepted we will begin on our plan to create the strategic plan for ministry. Please keep our ministry in your prayers as we work to be faithful to God’s call.