This work of leave-taking is exhausting. Those of you who have walked the path of grieving before are likely not surprised. Too often our wider culture discounts emotional work. It’s not “real” work the way taking meetings or building widgets or producing content or selling products or generating wealth is. Instead of tools for doing emotional work, our culture offers us ways of escaping it through distractions and entertainments or ways of numbing ourselves to it through addictions of various kinds. Much of the outrage we pollute our social spaces with is simply a means of avoiding grief work that the powerful have cleverly found ways to monetize. As a congregation we know from our own experience that neglecting difficult emotional work is perilous to our personal health and the health of the community. The only way to heal emotional suffering is to face it together with a skilled guide. So two things:
In the next two weeks find moments for intentional rest. Not burying your face in your favorite distraction, but finding your upright posture, connecting to your breath, and bringing your energy down to your heart. That’s one way to do it. Whatever your spiritual practice, stay with it.
Make it a priority to show up for Sunday worship. This Sunday, for example, Rev. Margaret Keyser will be joining us. Following worship she will be leading us in some healing work.
Our leave-taking is not a tragedy. It’s an opportunity to experience God’s healing love in ways you haven’t yet imagined.
We had a total of 54 people attend three different home worship opportunities this past Sunday. That’s about our average Sunday worship attendance. I consider that a great start to our Silent Period activities. Thanks to our hosts Pam Shadford, Jean Meyer, Rob & Jen Godzeno. Thanks to our worship leaders John Jelliffe, Maureen Matthews, Andrew Laro. This coming Sunday we will celebrate our first “All Together Worship” in the dining room of 1 Walton Place (the current FCC Stamford building). Our format will be breakfast church: singing, Scripture, prayer, and facilitated reflection on Acts 3:1-10.
We are also continuing our leave-taking process. The week before last I shared with the congregation that I’ve received a call as Transitional Senior Minister to First Congregational Church of Granby. Granby is about 10 miles from my home in Windsor. There are two UCCs in this small town, neither of which can sustain themselves in their current way of doing things. My role will be to help FCC Granby clarify and decide upon a path to sustainability, which may involve merging with the other UCC in town. Many of the issues are familiar: too much building, declining membership, need for a more vital engagement with the community, outdated worship. As with any new context, I’m anticipating new challenges and new opportunities to arise.
We are all in a tough spot right now. The Legacy Service with its mix of celebration and grief is still fresh in our minds. We will take time to reflect on that experience this coming Sunday. It’s important that we take the time to let all of this sink in so that we don’t get “stuck” in our grief. On top of that, we are processing the upcoming departure of the Transitional Senior Minister. Even though we’ve know this day was coming for some time, the news still comes as a shock. Some of us may be feeling the weight of all of this loss. It’s important that we don’t bear it alone. Alone, all of this is indeed impossible to bear. Together, we can bear more. Resting within the love of God’s limitless embrace, we are actually lifted up on eagle’s wings.