The weekend of the Super Bowl was spent with the Vestry at our retreat. Using some of the early data gathered at our annual meeting, it was no surprise that the areas we see as working well or take delight in (and give us a niche place in the market) are worship/liturgy, outreach and music. Communication on every level (within the congregation and beyond) calls for special efforts.
Using a tool for Role Renegotiation presented by Dick and Mary Naumann, we spent much of our time listening to one another and thinking together what we at St. Matthew's need to do or be to enhance our relationship with Diocesan leadership. In the next couple of months we have a wonderful opportunity to consider anew our hopes and expectations for ourselves, for our next bishop and his/her staff. There are also the issues revolving around the considerable amount of property we have for our stewardship. l
There are moments when I see these looming issues as opportunities; and other moments as chances to rely on God's power and mind and on the gifts of those with vision, discernment and wisdom. I sense we really need to seek God's mind on all this as it often seems so far beyond where my skills or interest lie.
Following the Vestry retreat (and the Super Bowl), I headed to Moab, Utah, home of Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks. These are places where the creative power of God in nature is evidenced in the arches, canyons, needles and fins. For four days Laurie and I hiked on trails, long and short, up and down, in mud, snow and dust. Through the years and along many miles, she has taught me to hike quietly in order to hear and see more by talking less. As the Psalmist writes, "Be still and know that I am God."
In the vast stillness, one can hear and feel the light breeze stirring the sage, greasewood and junipers; the song of a scavenging titmouse or the call of a soaring eagle; the squeaky scrunch of fresh, dry snow. The myriad snow crystals (see below) gave me a sense of abundance; the arches and other massive formations gave me a sense of eternity, stretching back and forward in time; and the petroglyphs, the hope for that day when every tribe, people and nation will be gathered together in unity to the praise of God's glory.
Just as the first nation people welcomed the Olympians who gathered in Vancouver this weekend, I long to be among those who welcome others just as I have been welcomed by Christ through baptism and the vocation given to all as ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5.17f)