I love this chapter! I think this is part of the prophetic work that the church is called to do. I agree with Kaur, we can’t just resist things – we have to have a vision of what we want the world to change into. As a Christian, that world for me is based on the profound truth that all people are beloved children of God.
One of the practices Kaur suggests in the study guide is to imagine the world you want to see. Maybe this is something we could do together as a community – giving us an image to inspire and guide our actions.
Here’s an example of part of what I imagine in a different world. As I’ve been watching the Olympics, I’ve been saddened by the coverage. I understand that I’m watching U.S. coverage so, of course, it’s U.S. centric, but I feel like we’re missing the point. For me the Olympics is about celebrating sporting excellence and achievement from around the globe – not medal counts and the U.S. triumphing. Actually, I feel this way at most sporting events (maybe with the exception of a Red Sox/Yankee game – that rivalry was ingrained in me from a very young age). Why can’t we celebrate great athletes and athletic achievement across the board – not just whether they play for our team or not. Why don’t we cheer for great sports, great plays, great efforts - instead of a team and the outcome of a competition. I guess this is a silly example, but hopefully you get the idea. This would be a radical shift from our culture of affiliation and taking care of/rooting for our own and winning as the goal. What if winning wasn’t the goal. What if the goal was enjoying the game – what if the goal was to have fun!
Playing competitive sports for fun may seem trite, but I actually think it’s the kind of thing that has the potential to transform our relationships with others.
During my sabbatical I’ve been thinking a lot of how the church functions as an institution and why the institution came into being. I wonder how our existence might change if we reimagined the institution’s purpose and role. We have done some of this at First Parish – but we could do more. How do things change when you move from wanting to get people to come into the church so their lives might be changed to wanting to reach people outside the church so that their lives might be changed. How can we focus outward and let go of the anxiety of getting more people in the doors? How does our institution change when we move to championing revolutionary love and we celebrate its expression anywhere we witness it – not just in the United Church of Christ.
On a personal note – I have about 4 weeks left in my sabbatical and am so grateful for this time away. My family and I have done lots of camping in our new travel trailer. We’ve spent lots of time with friends. And my favorite thing so far is a reinvigorated connection to my bike. I started biking again regularly in early June and am falling in love with biking all over again. I am feeling physically better than I’ve felt in years. I am also practicing spontaneity. As many of you know, I’m a planner. But this summer, I’m working hard on staying in the moment and seeing what opportunities present themselves. It’s been a blast! So thank you for this gift of time to rest and renew and I look forward to seeing all of you in late August.