Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Joy in the music and struggle

For four days the General Council Executive (GCE) has met carefully and faithfully, discerning God’s leading and direction as we considered the actions of General Council and their implementation.

There was joy in the struggle as we recognized both our gifts and our limitations as a church. In God’s world, there is abundance in community, and wherever our particular gifts end (and our limitations begin), others’ particular gifts begin and are called forth. I saw this process of trusting one another’s good gifts throughout the meeting, and am confident that when we have the sense to choose community, the truth of abundance is known in both personal and institutional ways. We are being called to explore and live into this truth in new ways as the United Church.

I’m delighted that my good friend, the Very Rev. Bruce McLeod, accepted the invitation to offer theological reflection during this meeting. Retelling the story of the Prodigal Son, Bruce invited us to stay in the key of the music playing at the party in the Father’s house—music that heals us and draws us home to where we truly belong, music that plays in harmony with the vibrations of the whole cosmos, music that invites us to follow the Creator’s tune.

The General Council asked the Moderator to take action on the urgent matter of climate change. It was heartening that on Monday the GCE endorsed “The Moderator’s Plan for Participating in God’s Abundant Healing of Creation”—an experience of joy in the struggle, and of playing music more in harmony with the whole world, as we engage seriously in the most urgent spiritual and moral challenges of our day. Addressing climate change and ecological justice—living into a vision of whole earth justice—represents the tune to which we are called to sing and dance joyfully.

Thanks to this decision, Ted Reeve is now working with me to help implement my three-year plan. The first year includes participating as a faith leader in the United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen next month. The second year includes train travel as Moderator, and the third year includes resource compilation. There’s much more, and I’ll keep you posted in the weeks to come.

The following day (Tuesday), I headed to Wilfrid Laurier University, having accepted an invitation from my friend, Dr. Sarah King, who teaches a course on Religion and Colonialism in the Department of Religion and Culture at WLU. It was an honour to share in a panel discussion with David MacDonald, Jean Becker, and Bob Watts as we spoke to and with 100 others—young and old, students and members of the church community—all of whom had braved the chilly winds to consider the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We talked about the importance of truth-telling about the legacy of residential schools. Hope comes to us personally, institutionally, and societally when we have the courage to begin with telling the truth. I found myself quoting Victoria Safford often—her words describing the gates of hope as “a sometimes lonely place, of truth-telling about your own soul first of all and its condition.”

There is joy to be found when we focus together on the struggles that matter the most. A focus on whole earth justice includes a focus on justice and healing in our own land.

You can read more about the evening panel discussion in the November 18 article of the WLU newspaper.

Today (Friday) I’m travelling to Winnipeg to participate in the River Running Intercultural Conference, another way to experience joy in the struggle and to sing the Creator’s tune with harmony, as a church in and of Canada.

How do you find yourself joyfully singing the Father’s/Creator’s tune?
Where are you finding joy in the struggle?

Again, thank you for engaging me in these healing conversations, and know that I and others are blessed by your comments even when I don’t have time to respond to you directly.