I’ve heard it said that this current generation of young adults will be known as the first humans see the planet from outer-space. The blue planet. The first humans to have an understanding of the intricate and intrinsic connection between us all, east and west, black and white, north and south… human, rock, river and ocean. We are connected.
And we have seen that.
Now in the United Church of Canada, we have a map with lots of colours. An overview of a more specific kind, and yet just as beautiful and interconnected as the global counterpart.
When you think about what the colours represent… pastoral charges wrestling with justice issues like hunger, poverty, human rights… pastoral charges praising and worshiping a beloved God who makes all things possible… pastoral charges discerning closure…ministry units scraping together a budget to offer housing, offer meals, offer hope to people with nowhere else to turn.
That is by no means an exhaustive list but you get the picture… and the picture is so much deeper than dots on a map!
At Kente presbytery last week I learned about mission work, about faithful individuals who take the prayers of others as personal devotion and I learned about laughter. It was a joy to visit Kente, as it has been joyful to drive across this beautiful conference and witness God’s mysterious work unfolding in everyday lives.
Yesterday the boundaries commission released its final report. You can read it here. You can see the map with around 3000 colourful dots representing the prayers, outreach, mission and faith of your brothers and sisters in Christ in the United Church of Canada. It is breath-taking if you think about it.
Many of us who live in the current Bay of Quinte Conference are represented by the green dots of regional council 11. We are joined by some dots that are new to us in the west. Some of Bay of Quinte’s eastern pastoral charges are now red dots. So what does this mean?
It means that from God’s perspective we are faithfully living out the mission as we are called. It means we are all interconnected and interdependent, and our relationships remain intricate and intrinsic to our identity and work as God’s people. That doesn’t change.
But there is no question it means some things will change. We will be welcoming new friends and ideas to our tables and homes.
Over the past year I may not have had a global overview, not even a national overview! But I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to see conference from a broad perspective as I have visited you all, and I grieve the loss of collegially among my friends in Upper Valley Presbytery and Four Rivers presbytery. I have to admit my sense of regional identity depended on the rivers and towering trees of the Ottawa Valley and Lanark area, as much as it does on the lakes and fields of Kawartha Highlands. Now we will be different colours.
I hope you will all join with me in this prayer.
Gracious God, who watches over us from a place so far beyond, that boundaries are meaningless, and anything is possible, you are the same God who knows our inner most thoughts and yearnings. Be with your United Church in this time of change and self-examination. Be with us all as we dare to try new things in your name, make new relationships, cherish old connections, and rest in the constant foundation that is your love. We ask this in the name of your son, our saviour Jesus. Amen.