As I finished my prayers this morning and considered again the charmed few days that the RGBP Big Event Planning Group had together in Lawrenceville, I kept feeling tears come to my eyes. How could I get so lucky to be involved with such an amazing group of women in ministry? I didn't know that I hungered so for it, that I needed to know what I would learn from it, but it satisfies me in ways that nothing else does.
My therapist says it this way, "You were ready for that connection and you opened yourself to it...and it came to you."
You may know that for a living, I send kids on international education experiences. In this context, I frequently quote St. Augustine: "The world is a book, and the person who does not travel reads only one page."
God's Christian church is the same way. If I stayed in my Episcopalian shell all my life, I would only know that model and polity...and I'd only have my IDEAS about other denominations. Ideas which are being proven wrong, inadequate, and lacking at every turn.
For instance: I never heard of the United Church of Christ before Revgals. We don't have those much in my area. "Church of Christ," a very popular denomination in this area, means something very, very, very, very different than UCC. Oh golly, does it.
"Baptist," to my uneducated mind, automatically meant "Southern Baptist." Guess what? There are lots of sorts of Baptist denominations. I had a pre-conceived idea about "American Baptists," and could I have been more wrong? Doubt it. I am a little embarrassed to admit how ignorant I have been...I like to think of myself as an intelligent and well-read person. Clearly, I have more learning to do!
Another thing I say a great deal in my work is this: "It's all about the relationships you build." I believe this is our best hope for a peaceful future, on the theory (stolen from Senator J. William Fulbright) that if we can send people to work and learn and study together, we won't have to do so much killing of each other in the long run. The program born out of Fulbright's dream is now 61 years old, and more than 250,000 persons have studied, learned, and built relationships across national boundaries.
Perhaps...ecumenical groups like RG are, then, an opportunity to hope for a peaceful and united church. I don't mean ecumenical groups with that as the primary purpose...but groups like ours that have a very specific mission: to support and encourage women in and heading for ordained ministry. As we work toward that mission, we create loving, supportive relationships, and learn that our differences and divisions are not so large...or that they are very large...and how can these be worked around?
God our Father, Mother, and Brother, be with us us as we minister to your world and to each other. Direct us in the ways that you would have us go. Love us when we make mistakes and have kerfuffles. Remind us why we are here.
Thanks a lot, God.