Unleashing your passion
What are you passionate about?” This was the first question asked of the Moderators on the Q&A panel at Yuróra NCYC 14.
It was an appropriate question, especially given that the theme of the NCYC festival was expressed by the Dharug word, ‘Yuróra’, which means ‘passionate’.
I have often said I am passionate about our Uniting Church ethos. I am passionate about being the church that God is calling us to be — a courageous, inclusive and just church that reaches out to all in the name of Jesus and for the Common Good. At our best, we are a community of faith that especially notices the plight of the poor and marginalised and acts to alleviate their poverty and alienation. We also seek to challenge the unjust structures that keep them there.
Yet being part of Yuróra challenged me on the difference between being passionate about something and being passionate in the way we go about living in our passion.
The very way the festival was organised allowed for and encouraged a flow of energy and organic integration of activities that were at first unsettling to my ageing and ordered soul.
While an esteemed theologian from UTC delivered a challenging and enlightening bible study in the college chapel, happy and energetic chatter abounded in the sacred space of the Commons Café. Here, three Synod staffers were attempting a serious conversation while just a table away, a group of young delegates were having a loudly hilarious game of cards. As the leaders of one of the smaller community gatherings were praying among their group, others, seemingly unaware, were chatting on the sidelines.
More than once I had to resist the urge to suggest to someone that a more moderate tone and volume might be appropriate. The learning curve was steepening a few degrees on what it means to ‘be passionate in’ rather than ‘be passionate about’.
The critically teachable moment, however, came one morning in the chapel service. Seeing her friend arrive, a young woman in the congregation rushed for the door and virtually crash-tackled her friend to the floor. That might not have been so dramatic had not the friend been holding a cup of coffee. Amazingly, only a small amount of coffee was spilt.
My first reaction? Disapproval! Did that young woman not realise how dangerous it was to tackle her friend like that? Someone could have been hurt or even burned! Tut tut.
It was only later, in a reflective moment during the main stage worship, that it hit me: how amazing must it be to have a friend who is so passionately pleased to see you that she throws all caution to the wind in expressing how she feels?
Was God not also doing that in entrusting Jesus to passionate engagement with God’s beloved creation?
I will probably never achieve the level of liberation of self-expression and unselfconscious energy that I admired at Yuróra. I do, however, sincerely hope that I, and those like me, will at least have the good sense to not get in its way. Or better, to ‘get in its way’ a bit more, and perhaps from time to time allow ourselves be swept up in the passion of it all.
Thank you, Yuróra.
Rev. Dr Brian Brown