Will I be any more coherent after a night’s sleep? We’ll see…

I am grateful for this event, this gathering.

I am grateful that it has been:

– Positive. As much challenge as the content has brought to us, calling us to change our accustomed ways and go into new places, the word is a good one. I have heard remarkably little griping or complaining, and even the little that I heard early on has lessened as the event develops. This is not a reaction against something, it is an invitation to new and joyful things. Thanks be to God!

– Prayerful. Each day has begun in prayer, and ended in worship and communion. This has felt genuine, refreshing, life-giving; the leaders and celebrants are not just going through the motions but truly believe, which invites the participants to do the same.

– Scriptural. One of the things I have begun to learn is that scripture is so much more interesting and alive (and challenging!) when it is not just a few verses plucked out, but a whole story read in context. Questions about the story can then be raised (Jesus had a house??) and can spark our imaginations, can begin to infect our lives.

– Safe. Each participant’s story and experience is welcomed and valued. I have shared my story, heard many others, helped connect people who need to hear the story another has to tell. I have challenged others – and been challenged myself, which I am grateful for because I seek to grow.

– Open to the Spirit. What a difference it makes, to truly believe God is at work! It allows us to hope. It allows for the future to become something different than the past. It gives us room to pray. It allows us to work, to strive, to step forward boldly, even when we don’t know the full outcome, because we can trust that God does. It allows us to take small steps or large ones, knowing that the results and even the plan are not ultimately in our hands, but that we have a part to play.

As a result of all of these things (and more), I have seen joy, hope, and life flow into the people here. I see us begin to think more creatively, to be ready to take steps that we previously despaired of, to want to share this joy and the stories of what we’ve heard with others.

And isn’t that the Gospel, friends?

Because we are loved, we can become open enough to love others, even strangers. Because we have experienced joy and freedom, we want to share it with others we know are still despairing and bound to the rules of the world. Because we have eaten together, prayed together, and shared our lives, we are equals, each serving in our own place and in our own way, but as a part of a large and glorious Kingdom.

Go and do likewise, friends. God is at work. Thanks be to God!