Reconciliation

photoAs we walked down the aisle of the store, a loud bellowing voice from behind us shouted, “Gentlemen?” We all turned around, a very brief moment of sizing each other up, then the moment was quickly interrupted as the fellow behind us made a witty, smart aleck comment. A lively, warm exchange ensued, and ended when agreement was struck to get together a couple hours later.

The thing is, my companions had been out of relationship with this guy – by his own initiating – for close to five years. It was abrupt, it was painful, and I think most assumed it would never be reconciled. And yet, here they were, some three hours later, sitting around reminiscing and enjoying each other’s company.

Reconciliation, when or how it happens, is always transformational. It is an invitation to begin again. It is an opportunity to not only choose a new path, but to intentionally walk together.

Reconciliation is not the same thing as resolution. Past actions, differences, and disagreements are a part of the narrative between people. It is not a matter of erasing a mistake on a piece of paper – the actions did in fact happen, and as such are written in ink in our story.

Yet all of us are invited to begin a new chapter with those we have been out of relationship with. All of us can intentionally choose to walk a new path again with those we walked with at one time. Repentance, mutually taking responsibility or a form of accountability in one way or another, may be part of the journey.

Reconciliation is about accepting the invitation to once again be in relationship and to be intentional about continuing to walk together. There is no higher call as people of faith, nothing more central to God’s mission, than for us to be in relationship…than to be reconciled with each other and through Christ to God.

Remembering The Rev. Henry Hoover

lakeAs she shared her memories, and those of her siblings and cousins, I was truly touched by how connected she felt to her grandfather. That feeling only grew as a son told stories about his father… and it was also clear that he was deeply connected to him. What a blessing it is to come to the end of one’s mortal life and be surrounded by family and friends who feel so connected to you.

This was the case last week as we gathered to celebrate the life and ministry of Henry Hoover. It was without a doubt a privilege to preside at Henry’s funeral. The witness of love and connectedness to Henry was evident and impressive.

Over the last two weeks I have been able to spend time with my siblings, cousins, in-laws, lifelong friends, and my childhood camp companions. Each one of these individuals are not only incredibly important in my life, but have been so instrumental in shaping much of who I am today.

The thread that ties all of these folks together is how connected I feel to each and every one of them. We have history, we have shared experience, but it goes much deeper than that. There is a bond, a synthesis, a… connection – that is life shaping and life giving.

The letter of Paul to the Romans describes it best… “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” Romans 12:5.

The Cloud of Witnesses: Elders

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Myself and Irma Wyman

The first person to come to our house after my father died was our priest. The second was my dad’s best friend. He made sure our needs in the moment were being met, made sure we had appropriate clothes for the funeral, and made sure we knew he was only a phone call away if we needed him. He was unquestionably one of the first elders in my life.

A few years later when I was a very young camp director, there was a very wise chair of the board who walked with me with personnel, financial, and property management. He too, was without a doubt, an elder in my life.

In my early years of formation I was fortunate to have a very wise priest who poked, prodded, and pondered with me. She was instrumental in the early shaping of my theological framework. She was, without a doubt, an elder in my life.

This last weekend I was blessed to spend time with a number of family members from across many generations. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting and story telling. For me, the richest part of the weekend was spending time with my uncle John. At 83, he is physically frail but cognitively as sharp as ever. His thoughts, perspective, and counsel were very wise.

I am, in great part, who I am because of the “cloud of witnesses”- because of my elders. Some I have been blessed to share much of my journey with, and others were rather recent or brief. We are also blessed in ECMN to have a strong “cloud of witnesses” of elders. Every one of our faith communities have an incredible cadre of elders who have much wisdom to share. I implore you take full advantage of them!