For the last couple of weeks I have started walking us through the plans for the summer. We have talked about your themes and storytellers, my travels and plans, and our deep hopes as a community for the growth that will come for all of us during this special time. This week we set our sights on the month of July, and some other special ways to use storytelling that perhaps you had not considered.
THE MONTH OF JULY: In the month of July Covenant’s storytelling theme will be Heroines/Heroes. The guiding scripture for these stories will be one of my very favorite heroes in the Bible—Esther! Esther’s story is beautiful and powerful and certainly gives us a good jumping of point to tell stories of our heroines and heroes. I am very excited to tell you that the first Sunday of July will feature the Rev. Christine Vogel preaching and presiding at communion. Christine was the chaplain at McCormick Seminary when I attended, and she was an excellent worship professor! She recently moved into the presbytery and now resides in Santa Fe with her husband. She recently told her call story to the presbytery at Ghost Ranch, and you could’ve heard a pin drop because she had the room so riveted. Our two storytellers in July will be Anne Littlewolf and Clara Boling, both of whom can certainly spin a yarn!. Then VBS Sunday will happen as usual, followed by stories from our mission partner in Nepal—Her Farm. As you can tell, July looks just as exciting as all the rest!
While you are telling your tales of heroes and heroines, I will be meeting one of mine. In July I will be headed up to Northern Ireland to spend time with the Corymeela community. Corrymeela is an intentional community that has been working to foster peace in Northern Ireland for more than 50 years. One of their primary tools has been storytelling. By working with different groups and sharing the stories of loss, hurt and reconciliation, they have managed to be a voice for peace in a tumultuous region. Pádraig Ó Tuama is the Community Leader there, and he is one of the reasons I got into all of this story telling stuff in the first place. He is a brilliant storyteller himself, and a profoundly thoughtful public theologian. I will be lucky enough to spend some time with him while he is leading a program for Catholic and Protestant youth learning to work together. I am excited beyond belief for this portion!
One of my deep hopes from all of this time is that we will all have new skills, deeper understandings, and passions to do new things together after the sabbatical. I am truly interested to see how the work at Corrymeela might inform this. Certainly, we live in divided times. We live in a land that has long been divided between Native, Hispanic and Anglo voices. There are so many ways that storytelling could be used in this place like it is being used in Corrymeela to work for healing and reconciliation. However, this goes even further. This isn’t just about repairing divides culturally, but imagine what it could look like if we all learn to tell and listen to each other’s stories in a more meaningful way and can come to find healing and wholeness in so many of our broken relationships. I am truly excited about the potentials that lie behind using storytelling in this way.
Next week will be my last epistle, and I will wrap up our plans for the summer and begin to lay some groundwork for our reunion next September. However, I want to leave you with some encouragement to start thinking about how all of this will be molding us in the coming months and how we can use this together upon my return to make a difference here in our community beyond the walls of the church. The possibilities are endless! And so is the power of the Holy Spirit to work through energized and enthusiastic disciples. Start thinking about what this may mean now—I will be anxious to see where this leads us!