Uncertain futures bring us close to God
In his December 2011 column the Moderator, the Rev. Dr Brian Brown, asks us to “Prepare for new things”.
In August 2011, the Rev. Niall Reid said uncertain futures bring us close to God.
In this last fortnight I have attended two conferences. The first was the National Ministers’ Conference held in Alice Springs. In the desert we experienced four days of rain and I experienced both challenge and hope blessing the parched landscape that is so often the outlook of the church.
Then I attended the National Godly Play Conference at the Centre for Ministry. Even if I never use Godly Play resources I believe I will be far more intentional about honouring the spiritual gifts and insights that children have within them. More than this Godly Play reinforced my conviction that we need to make connections between the stories of our faith and our own personal experience.
At the very beginning of the conference one of the trainers “playing” with wooden figures in the sand (representing the desert) shared the story of Abram and Sarai who moved from place to place discovering that wherever they went God was present and that God was calling them to trust him as they travelled to an unknown destination responding to a promise of what seemed to be an impossible dream. In the context of the unknown and the uncertain the story spoke of Abram and Sarai coming close to God, and God coming close to them.
As the trainer told the story and moved the little figures around the sand I felt God coming close to me and I felt close to God who yet again gave me assurance about my uncertain future and the uncertain future of our church.
It is in this place that God comes close to us and we come close to God. I believe we will be blessed as we leave the church that we know, in which we have felt secure and comfortable and journey towards the church that God is creating beyond the walls and the pews, the worship and the liturgy that are so familiar, to a church that gathers around people in their environment wherever that may be.
At the beginning of my time as Moderator I found God pushing me into being part of the Sydney Alliance and I discovered myself in places that I would never have imagined working and sharing with people outside the church. I found myself coming close to God and God coming close to me. I think some people have their doubts that this could be so, maybe even laugh at my conviction. I was reminded this past week that Abram and Sarai laughed at the idea that God could give them a child from what was barren territory.
Just before I finish as Moderator on Thursday September 15 the Sydney Alliance will have its Founding Assembly at Sydney Town Hall. It is my hope that we will have a strong Uniting Church presence there witnessing to our willingness to go into new places ready to be about the mission of God, participating in the vision of the Synod to be “Moving with God Transforming Communities”. If you are with me on this please register on the Sydney Alliance website (www.sydneyalliance.org.au) as the Town Hall has limited seating.