by Rev. Diane Weible
Last Sunday I joined some of our colleagues and ecumenical partners in Pleasant Hill for a service to Commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
It was an amazing time filled with singing and words of forgiveness, commitment, and unity. The focus was on the understanding that we are of one Body, and we are one in the Spirit. The service was created by clergy in the Pleasant Hill area including representatives from the United Church of Christ, the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and the Presbyterian Church. Each leader spoke for a few minutes on what it looks like to be one in the Spirit and to work together as one Body.
As we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is a good time to reflect on what this event means for us today. Part of me wonders about the value of considering the theses we might post on our own church door if we wanted to re-think what we are focused on versus what we should be focused on. But another part of me is less concerned about that then about the fact that we need to seek unity and learn to work together if we are going to tackle the big issues of our present moment in history.
Maybe those two things are not so far apart. Maybe first we need to figure out what those big issues are—issues that we can all agree need to be addressed—and then look for ways we can create solutions together. As I stood in that sanctuary on Sunday and looked out at the Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and UCC members gathered together my heart was filled with pride and hope. We can agree on any number of issues that need to be addressed: homelessness, violence, climate change, privilege.
Even if we just start there – we will be busy disciples of the Church beyond what we can imagine.
Yesterday I listened to a TED talk (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ted-talks-daily/id160904630?mt=2&i=1000391167370) by the Mayor of Albuquerque on initiative that involved city officials and non-profit organizations to effect change around homelessness in that city. Fresh off this worship service on Sunday and with my own words and the words of my three colleagues ringing in my head, I thought to myself: What would it look like if we worked together with the Mayor of Oakland (or any of our cities) to enact a similar proposal in our community? I’m looking forward to our next Justice and Witness Ministries meeting (everyone and anyone is invited! See below for details) where I will offer this idea as a place for us—for our churches and our members—to begin a new journey of working together.
And then there is the aftermath of the wildfires and all the people in our communities that have been impacted by them. Soon, there will be calls for help with clean-up that alongside the pleas for donations and gift cards will continue to offer us a way to reach out to the places that need our witness and our presence the most. For now, though, we recognize it has been less than a week since the fires were officially declared contained so it’s still too early for us to become engaged. The hardest thing to do in the face of a disaster is to wait. We want to load up our cars with supplies and donated items and drive them to the site. We are told to pray and to send money but our bodies tell us we are an extra pair of hands and we will do whatever is needed. I know that is how I felt. But it was too soon. The first response teams are trained to do the work that is most needed in the immediacy of an emergency. Donations that are not asked for may not be welcomed, especially if people need to spend precious time sifting through these items and therefore not be available for the work that they do need to be focused on an emergency of this magnitude.
There will be many opportunities for us in the coming months to show our love and support for our siblings in Sonoma,Santa Rosa, and Napa but we need to wait until they tell us what they are ready for us to come, and what is needed. Until then, pray. And, until then, know your monetary donations will be greatly needed, especially as we address the unmet needs in the community—needs that FEMA and Red Cross and individual insurance will not be able to cover.
As Reformation Sunday approaches, I invite you to remember that you are part of a long and wonderful history of faith-filled people who have sought to find ways to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities and in the world beyond. There is no end to the work that we are called to do and there is no end to witness that Christ needs for us to be. Find a friend—a sibling in Christ—and let’s get to work!
The Justice and Witness Ministries of the NCNC UCC re-visioning meeting will take place on November 16, 10:00 AM at the Conference Offices. There is also an option to phone/video into the meeting. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or the phone/video process.