Moderator Mardi’s Blog: By the rivers of Babylon

When we realize we need God’s healing, we’re more open to feel the touch of the Holy. That’s true not only in our personal lives but also in the life of our church. At this time in our church, we are aware of our need for healing.

As General Secretary Nora Sanders wrote on Friday in her weekly letter, last week was a time of lament over the loss of colleagues in the General Council Office. These friends have served the church faithfully over many years. Lament continues into this week, as does the work of imagining our way forward—with hope.

Last week’s reasons for lament flowed like yet another tributary into a stream of losses. Difficult decisions had also been made earlier about annual grant funding to a number of theological schools. There are other sorrows that you know well wherever you are in the church.

Anyone who has followed the decision-making of the Executive of the General Council knew changes were coming. With many others, I read all the submissions from across the church that were offered to the triennium planning process and informed the report the Executive considered at its May meeting. I also had the privilege of chairing that meeting, in which decisions about our future directions were made unanimously. It’s a frequent honour to sit with the General Council Office management team as they carefully consider budget realities and abundant suggestions from the church.

Then tragedies such as Hurricane Igor come along. Sending notes and making phone calls to assure prayerful support is often the best we can do for one another at such times.

As inadequate as it seems, by the grace of God we are vehicles of care and resurrection hope to one another.

We are in a dynamic time in the life of our church. Shoots of new life are springing up alongside our rivers of tears. And we are caring for one another in stressful times of transition. Both reasons for celebration (too many to list now) and the ways in which people are reaching out to one another across our church inspire me.

Difficult and faithful work is being done on how to be a national church in new ways. It is work that honours the challenges of living creatively and dynamically within the realities of both abundance and scarcity.

As Margaret Atwood once said, “The facts of this world seen clearly are seen through tears; why tell me then there is something wrong with my eyes?”

Sounds a lot like Psalm 137. So we will not hold back the tears as we help one another see more clearly from here.

What is bringing tears to your eyes, and how are your tears helping you see the way forward in the church where you are?