Context: a “Minister’s Reflection” submitted to the late February issue of “Connections,” the newsletter of Mill Woods United Church
Love is our most sacred value. We worship the God who is Love. Our ministry is centrally about love. And one of the tasks of a minister is to allow themselves to be loved by a congregation.
Kim and I felt very loved when so many of you came to our wedding ceremony in November and by the beautiful gifts of a ceramic bowl and a prayer shawl that you gave us on January 29. Thank you!
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to lead a church in a peaceful and unchanging time. But we do not live in such a time. Instead, I believe we have entered a new era in which ethnic cleansing and fears of the stranger are on the rise. This seems like a dangerous time to me.
I was pleased that 14 of us gathered on January 19 to share our feelings about the current social context. Not everyone agreed that this is a new era, of course, and I appreciated hearing the different perspectives.
But even if my intuition about a new era were right, it might not change a lot for the church. For sure, we are called to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and against racist speech and action. We will also continue to bless babies when they are born, mourn the loss of loved ones, reach out in compassion to our neighbours, care for one another, raise our families in changing times, and proclaim hope, grace, and love.
This year as we enter the spiritual wilderness of Lent, we do so with a full range of feelings. Lent points towards the new life of Easter. But joy is found not just at Easter. It is also found in the love we share with our fellow pilgrims on the road.
On Easter Sunday, April 16, we will celebrate the good news revealed by Jesus’ empty tomb. During the weeks leading up to this, we will journey together as lovers in a dangerous time.
I appreciate how Bruce Cockburn put it in his 1984 song:
“These fragile bodies of touch and taste / This vibrant skin, this hair like lace / Spirits open to the thrust of Grace / Never a breath you can afford to waste / When you’re lovers in a dangerous time.”
“Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime / But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight / Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight / When you’re lovers in a dangerous time.”