Happy New Year! Today is a day full of hope. The trail through 2018 is behind us, with all its ambiguities, things joyful and terrible, and now 2019 lays before us. It is full of potential, pristine as a meadow of untrampled fresh snowfall. Yes, there may be some shadows from the edges of the forest, but there is so much possibility: you can ski this way or that, build a snow fort, make snow angels, even have a snowball fight with your kids. Or simply admire the way the sunlight glistens off the crystals, a million diamonds spread as far as you can see. Fresh, new, renewal beckons us in body and spirit.
Christian Formation is breaking fresh ground; you enjoyed the Thrive programs offered in November. Now, starting this month, we will again go off the familiar path, court adventure, try some different things, even be a bit crazy as we seek to experience God. Isn’t that an important part of the spiritual journey? We are going to use the West Forum/Choir Room on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. for this experiment, at least through the spring. For many years, our Forum program has focused on lectures and presentations, which we have listened to eagerly, and asked great questions. Lectures are a great method of learning for some people and generations, but as education in general has moved away from “the sage on the stage” to the “guide by the side,” we want to expand our learning styles. Spiritual formation indeed involves the head but includes also “heart and hands and voices.”
While we will certainly still have traditional presentations by outside groups, and events like Candidate Forums, we want to explore some new ways. We will continue to preserve elements we have valued from our past approach:
We want to build on the past, but increase our focus on fresh aspects:
The Formation Board realized that the Spirit was leading us in new directions, and has assembled an excited Revisioning Team, still open to new people, to imagine our use of the West Room. The Forum Planning Ministry Team had worked hard for many years developing the Forums, for which I am grateful, and I am thrilled at the energy the Revisioning Team is bringing to the table. (See me if you’d like to participate!) The Board realized the West Room is the largest educational space in our building, one of the best equipped, and amazingly flexible. We can set up with chairs for lectures or circles for intimate discussions, with tables for theology café or crafts, we can clear the floor for an indoor labyrinth, Spirit Yoga, meditation or dance. We can cover the whiteboard with insights and the walls with newsprint sheets of prayers. We can show film clips or listen to podcasts. The piano lets us explore song and music. Such an amazing space, a wonderful tool our congregants past and present have created!
January 13 and 20, we will be introducing the as-yet-unnamed program and providing different ways for you to give your input to our work. Among other things, we will identify the spiritual “itches” that we have, those growing edges that sometimes annoy us, those places where the Spirit is disturbing our souls, those things that we know we need to work on in the safe space of life together with other people following God. On the 27th, we will try out dramatic improv as a way to get into the itches we identify in an embodied and full voiced way, to try on different solutions for size, and see what we discover we know deep in our being. In February, we will dig into Brené Brown’s ideas around empathy, through film, discussion and crafting. In March… Oh, I guess the Spirit hasn’t carried the team that far. What do you think would be good?
This New Year, I invite you into this Christian Formation construction zone (look for the yellow tape!). Experiment with us; some things will be great, others may well flop -- and that’s OK. Roll up your sleeves, put on some googles (and maybe a helmet) since you never know what God might do when God’s people open to new moves of the Spirit.
Rev. Dr. Mark Lee
Director of Christian Formation (Adults)
The Rev. Dr. Mark Lee brings a passion for Christian education that bears fruit in social justice. He has had a lifelong fascination with theology, with a particular emphasis on how Biblical hermeneutics shape personal and political action. Read more about Mark.