I’m often reminded of the frailty and brokenness of our world, a reality brought home by news near and far. A college or high school student takes his own life; bombings in Afghanistan, London, and Iraq kill 80, 7, and 40 people; a colleague is killed when a car rams his stopped motorcycle; more than 65 million refugees and internally displaced people are in search of a stable life; actions by our nation’s political leaders contribute to an ongoing cycle of cynicism.
We are also experiencing brokenness and pain within our church body as we have seen fractures and factions develop over the past months. Like many of you, I’ve been deeply grieved, troubled by the unresolvable differences within our church body. Tension, turmoil, conflict, anger, misunderstanding, hurt, judgment – and more – have been realities for folks across the spectrum on issues of human sexuality and the yearly meeting decision process. And sadness. That seems to be my core response: sadness, casting a shadow over the rest of life, a cloud I haven’t been able to shake for months. And yet…
Christ is Light, in Him there is no darkness,
Come draw in and He will give you Light.
These words are from a song we sang at the Taizé service in early May. They reminded me that even in times of darkness, the Light of Christ prevails. This song and others sparked hope in me.
Sing out my soul.
Sing out and glorify the Lord who sets us free.
Sing out my soul.
Sing out and glorify the Lord God!
The words in themselves are certainly meaningful, but I wish you could hear the tunes and sing the words, repeating songs or phrases numerous times, soaking in the power of truth as we worship our Lord and God.
Gloria, Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, Gloria, alleluia, alleluia!
I left the Taizé service with hope. Hope that the God I claim to follow is larger than church divisions – difficult as the rending of community is – and that God will continue to work in and through those who are faithfully following Jesus, even though they might be moving in different directions on some issues. Hope that God is at work beyond Newberg Friends, and that our travails will not derail God’s activity in the world. I need frequent reminders of hope, of Christ as Light of the World, because I remain saddened by so much that I see, near and far. And in the near future, I will no longer be a member of the gathered faith community that has been so important to me over the past dozen years or so.
Come and fill our hearts with Your peace,
You alone O Lord, are holy.
Come and fill our hearts with Your peace, alleluia.
I’m hopeful I’ll remain in community with many of you – the community of believers, the community of Newberg, perhaps even community through regular interaction with some of you. At the same time I remain sad that the broad umbrella of Newberg Friends Church, a place held together for so long with members who held a spectrum of theological, social, and political views and yet remained orthodox on central tenets of historic Christian faith – I’ll remain sad that that Newberg Friends will no longer exist as the body splits, fractures, and splinters.
In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful,
in the Lord I will rejoice!
Look to God, do not be afraid;
lift up your voices the Lord is near.
Thank you for shaping me, being home for my family, and enabling us to participate in the life and ministry of Newberg Friends. God has been gracious. And now this chapter is closed.
Peace [Love…Light…Christ] before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet;
Peace within us, Peace over us
let all around us be Peace.
Another song has been on my mind for the past few months and has surprised me by showing up unexpectedly in the past few weeks. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” May we each be drawn to the Light, be filled with the Light, and shine the Light of Christ as we encounter darkness and chaos in our community and our world.