So believe it or not, I have just four epistle reflections left before I begin my sabbatical. Now, never fear, you will still hear from me and see some of my theological reflections in this place while I am on sabbatical, but it should be no surprise that things will be different around Covenant starting on May 7th. So for the next four weeks of epistle reflections, we are going to reflect on what the plans are for each of the four months that I will be away. Consider it a teaser/trailer for the extremely exciting things to come for both the church and myself.
First of all, why is it that we are doing all of this? You may have heard some of this explanation, but let’s take it a bit further. Storytelling is at the center of who we are. Our faith is based on stories. At the center of our tradition is God’s story and the story of the people of God in scripture. We are a storytelling people. To take that even further, one of the major reflections that led to the writing of an award winning grant by your Covenant Kin was the thought that occurs to us after so many memorials, “Wow, I never knew (______X______) about (____so and so____). I wish I had known that before the memorial.” One of the beauties of being a part of a family of faith is getting to know one another, but all too often, we only have the surface story. This is an invitation for all of us to get to know one another’s stories better.
Finally, there is a skill called theological reflection that is also central to how we connect with God. At the heart of theological reflection is the ability to reflect on God’s place in all of our stories. It does not matter the story you tell, somewhere God is hiding in that story. Sometimes it is easy to see. For example, the story of someone’s call to ministry. Sometimes it is much harder to see. For example, seeing God in the broken relationships of the story of a dysfunctional family. God is present. God is always present. The sign of a mature faith is the ability to look into our stories and find God—especially in the more difficult stories.
So though we will not have a sermon every Sunday this summer, the word will be proclaimed through story. Think of this as practice for you all in the art of Theological Reflection—where is God at work in the story? On that note, here is what is in store next month:
THE MONTH OF MAY: Covenant will be focusing on the stories of women and their relationships. Given that the secular holiday of Mother’s Day comes the second Sunday of May, it seemed an appropriate topic; especially because Mother’s Day is a holiday that is steeped in complexity. You see, not all women are mothers, some people have very complex relationships with their mothers, some people never knew their mother. Thus, the complexity. So rather than simply focus on “Mothers”, we are focusing on women and their relationships. Scripturally, that means the month of May will be dedicated to the story of Ruth. Ruth is the great grandmother of King David, and her story is truly remarkable. That will be the backdrop of our worship and our stories in May. I will do the first Sunday and introduce the theme, the story of Ruth and how this will all work. Keep in mind, that in place of the sermon this summer, we are doing some different, but incredibly exciting things. After I introduce things on the first Sunday of May, Linda Sullivan will be telling a story about her own experiences of motherhood—I have heard this one and it is tremendous! The following Sunday, the Albuquerque Young Adult Volunteers will be telling us their story about their ministry here in New Mexico and what it has been like for them. Finally, May will wrap up with Leona Mark telling her story. To be honest, I am quite jealous of you all, and I will be watching the Facebook livestream to hear these wonderful tales.
While all of this is happening, I will be off in New York City (NEW YORK CITY!?!?!). I will be doing some learning at The Moth. You know all of those closing meditation stories that I have been linking all year/? Those are all from The Moth. I will be hearing lots of good storytellers and learning some of their skills, I also might even have a shot at telling my story as well. The topics for the story slams will be “Dinner,” and “Ego.” It should be a whole lot of fun. I also will have the opportunity to spend some time with my sister, and take in some other storytelling too.
Again, over the next few weeks, we will talk through each month of our sabbatical summer of storytelling, and look more deeply as to how this grows our life of faith and our community together. I am very excited about what will come of all this, and a deepening of our relationships from getting to know one another’s stories.