They are like trees planted by streams ofPsalm 1:3a
water, which yield their fruit in its season.
I recently heard someone explain that the “Church is a community of people where God nurtures, teaches, and challenges us in the ways of God.” Through our worship, in our prayers, by way of fellowship, we feel the nurturing presence of God with us. Through Sunday School and the studying of scripture, we dive deeper into the mystery of God’s immense love for what God created, and reflect on how God’s work continues to create a more peaceful world. In the sufferings of the world and our own lives, we hear God challenging us to be better, to stay on God’s path which can only lead to truth and life.
Just like the trinity, the three are healthiest when they are balanced in the life and ministry of the Church. A church that only nurtures has nothing to learn, and is not committed to the complicated needs of the community, which really was the ministry of Christ. On the flip side, a church that is only challenging often has a weak foundation (a house built on sinking sand) because they often forget that God is the nurturing source
that gives their work meaning and direction. I think individually we all gravitate toward one a little more than another, but the key is that all three exist in the ecosystem we call church. It is a great balancing act, but necessary for healthy ministry.
This year I am serving as a delegate to the United Church of Christ’s 33rd General Synod. If you don’t know, every two years our denomination gathers to vote on resolutions and issues pertaining to the national setting. However, it is much more than that. With UCC churches from Hawaii to Maine to Florida, we gather to worship, to learn, to advocate, and to fellowship. Because it will be online this year, there are opportunities for you to join the wider church. All three worship services are free to stream on their website (https://www.generalsynod.org/). On Sunday July 11 @ 5p.m., Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. who was one of the Wilmington 10, will be leading worship. There are also workshops available, and while they cost money they provide a great opportunity to listen for God’s still speaking voice. For instance, one workshop is Trauma: How the Church Can Support Healing. You will also be able to livestream debates on resolutions. Below are a couple of the resolutions that we will be voting on…
1.) “Who will speak for the trees?” A Resolution on the Rights of Nature
2.) A Resolution to Declare and Respond to Racism as a Public Health Crisis
3.) A Resolution to Ban the Practice of Conversion Therapy
“Church is a community of people where God nurtures, teaches, and challenges us in the ways of God.” Whether here in Lancaster or with the Church Universal, may we find a balance that leads us to be like trees planted by streams of water.
Blessings for the journey,
Holy God, as we journey through life,
We give thanks for your presence that has never left us.
We listen for your voice, calling us to deeper understanding of your love,
And we seek to live it out in all we do.