“The Chance to Love Everything” – December 14, 2011
- Grace and Ultimacy, Belonging and Transformation – Reflections on the TRUU Path –
If you are like me, you might still be wondering what happened to November even as we are facing the middle of December. The days have gone by quickly, and here we are, already facing the half-way point in the church year.
When I last wrote a note like this, it was early-October, and I had just returned from Boston. I was reflecting on Belonging, noting my article as “Part 1,” implying of course, a Part 2 to follow….In the meantime, however, we’ve not only finished up our monthly theme on belonging, but also passed through November’s reflection on Ultimacy, and now are smack in the middle of December’s theme of Grace.
Luckily, a month does not end in real life like it does on the calendar. The 31st of October is just the day before the 1st of November, and the 1st of December is just the day after the 30th of November. And so, we need not hold all these themes – Belonging, Ultimacy, Grace – or even Transformation, September’s theme – as separate and distinctly reflected upon – they are all pieces of the whole path we’re on, this TRUU spiritual path of love and life, community and justice, wholeness and healing.
Transformation (personal, social) requires the confidence that comes from a deep sense of belonging (who are my people, to whom am I loyal, where do I belong).
Further, transformation is not directionless – inviting a path of transformation asks us to consider what we are becoming, and by what means – and so responsible transformation goes hand-in-hand with questions of ultimacy – what matters most, what is ultimately true, for as Emerson says, “what we worship we are becoming,”
And how else does one discern such big things except with the people with whom they belong?
And these people with whom we belong are both the bearers of gifts beyond our doing or our deserving – as well as our helpers in responding to all of life’s grace, as together we bring healing and hope – transformation – to the world around us, which in turn transforms us as well.
All of these themes are interconnected, asking that we deepen our connections and strengthen our commitment to growing ourselves, and growing our world.
In truth, it’s the hope of all theme-based ministry, that we will hold all these concepts as one, that we will integrate our understanding and our questions, and that each new theme will deepen the reflections on the previous ones. I have experienced this myself as I have prepared worship and Bright and Spirited Path materials – I’ve noticed how each of these themes interrelate and ask similar questions just from different perspectives.
For this month’s theme – grace – I have been thinking how it does – and does not – relate to questions of ultimacy. I have been hearing this song from Judy Fjell in my head all month, entitled, “If there is a god.” You can download it for just a $1 (click here to download.) It goes like this:
If there is a god, god is elusive
If there is a god, god is right in my face
If there is a god, I’m not so important
If there is a god, is that who’s givin’ me grace?
Cuz grace I see, and god I don’t
Sometimes I believe, sometimes I don’t
But grace I feel, and grace I know,
And grace is touchin’ my soul
In some ways, it doesn’t matter what we think of as the source of these gifts of life. It only matters that we acknowledge the ways we are blessed beyond our own effort, and respond to these gifts with our gratitude, and that we give back – spread the grace around.
And yet even acknowledging that is a way to think about Ultimacy – that what ultimately matters is knowing we are blessed abundantly, and responding by bringing more life to more people.
As the days continue to pass too quickly, through this holiday season and into the new year, may you find yourself blessed beyond belief, and may your life be a blessing to all you meet.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday – for our service at 10, reflecting on how we give voice to our blessings and needs – and for our big Solstice Event at 5 in the evening. And as always, I look forward to continuing this journey of transcendence, significance and belonging, with laughter, light, patience, and courage.
With love and in faith, Gretchen
PS: If you are ever in need of a personal conversation, for whatever reason, please feel free to get in touch so that we can schedule a time.