New York City. Last Day.
These are the final adventures of a group of clergy who went to NYC to uncover innovative ways to gather, worship, and live out faith in an ever changing world.
Our last day. Basically this was just a day to enjoy brunch and travel home. We debriefed over a meal and talked about what we would do differently now that we had experienced this time apart. Travel changes you. It gives you new perspectives. It allows you to see your context through the lens of another. It connects us and reminds us how diverse the world is and yet how similar we all are. We all yearn for peace, rest, excitement, meaning, joy, and love. We all require nourishment and relationship. We all walk together even if it seems as if we are walking alone. We all sit in the realm of the divine even as we fight demons...especially the demons in our own mind.
So as we reflected on the tension we feel as pastors trying to hold up the world on our shoulders in the shadow or reflection of the church (depending on the time of day), here are a few insights:
- Grace happens. It always has and always will. And we experienced that in mindful moments that became holy moments around the table. There's a reason why Jesus is seen so many times eating with others...because that's where grace often happens. In the everyday, necessary act of nourishing our bodies as we also nourish each other's minds and God nourishes our soul.
- People want to gather. This was the big tension from the pandemic....how to gather people safely. But they don't always want to gather in a building. They want to gather in a park on a nice day. They want to gather in the center of Times Square where there is sensory overload. They want to gather at the theater where they can escape reality...even if the escape is to a more painful or sad experience which reminds us of our shared human experience.
- It's gonna be alright. There is no single person who holds the world up. It is a collective effort made easier when we accept the power we have through the Holy Spirit to reject the evil powers of this world and put our whole trust in God's grace. While it seems we don't trust each other much these days, when we realize the grace that comes with trusting God, it is a powerful moment that makes holding the world up infinitely easier.
I grateful for this group of clergy. I'm not sure I could've made it through the Pandemic without their encouragement. And I'm so ever grateful for this trip. It restored my hope and allowed me to reframe my sense of calling and ministry for 2022 and beyond.
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. - In case you want to read from the beginning of our trip, you can read about it here.
P.P.S. - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.