by Rev. Michael Mueller
The experience of Holy Week has led us finally to the joy of resurrection. But Jesus’ journey to that point included betrayal, denial, abandonment, torture and death. In the course of our own lives the path to renewal and transformation also leads through some kind of loss or death before arriving at new life.
This year we have walked the journey through Holy Week with the people of St. Paul’s and Zion. Together we are on a path toward consolidation. On March 15, at the third joint meeting of our councils, we formed a Mission Team to guide the process forward. Jan Kasbeer and Sandy Roberts have committed themselves to represent St. Andrew on this team.
The first event that the Mission Team is planning will be a structured dialogue, titled “Letting Go – Moving Forward,” on Sunday, May 1. We will join Emmanuel and Gethsemane for this event, because they also are involved in a consolidation process. The conversation will be led by staff of the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion and will provide opportunity to deal with our grief over the losses we have already experienced, as well as those we see coming.
The goal of dialogue is mutual understanding and attentive listening in a safe space that promotes open hearts. The Zeidler Center provides the structure for a reflective dialog that builds relationships and trust. Facilitators lead the process in a way that protects discussion from devolving into conflict and debate rather than respectful dialogue. All the responses are confidential. A facilitator will be assigned to small groups of 5-6 people.
Emmanuel will serve as our hosts on Sunday, May 1, beginning with combined worship for all congregations at 9:00 a.m., followed by brunch in their fellowship hall immediately afterward. We will then break into circles of 5-6 for discussion, ending by 1:00 pm.
Pastor Steve Clingman, who serves Emmanuel and Gethsemane, shared the following reflection:
It was C.S. Lewis in the very personal and raw description of his grief at the loss of wife Joy Davidman Gresham (an American Writer who had come to England and at first developed an intellectual friendship with Clive but this grew into true companionship and loving marriage) who wrote in his book A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” Grief and fear often walk together.
It may be for this reason and many others that the angel said to the grieving women at the tomb “do not fear” and then told them the good news soon to be standing next to them in the Risen Jesus.
Moving from grief and fear to good news usually does not come without going to the cross first, lots of tears, and letting go of the past. Yet, good news and joy do come in the morning.
I encourage members of St. Andrew to make the commitment to participate in this day together. It will give us opportunity to build relationships and trust. And identifying what we must let go at this point will give us freedom to move forward in the journey toward a new beginning with a fresh sense of purpose.
With Easter Hope,
Pr. Michael Mueller