No doubt you’ve noticed that our new Associate Minister, Margie Allen, has become a powerful, effective, warm presence.
Start-up time in any job can be challenging, and she’s told me that she feels your support. Don’t hesitate to give her a call to set up some one-on-one time; that’s the most important part of her start-up year; she has to get to know you. She’s a good listener.
Little by little she’s able to look out from the pulpit at faces she knows, with a story behind each. So it’s important that you tell her a chapter or two of your story. It’s one thing to put together and deliver a good sermon; it’s quite another thing to feel a sense of real, ongoing connection with real people, living real lives, when you look out from the pulpit.
I like the way Martin Buber put it: “From moment to moment, from day to day, we search the eyes of others for that certain ‘Yes.’”
Buber’s ‘yes’ is the affirmation that emerges in an ongoing relationship. The ‘yes’ is not about agreement. It’s deeper than that. It’s about feeling known; it’s about feeling respected; cared for; appreciated.
The word respect is rooted in the Latin verb specere, ‘to look at.’ It shares the root of spectacles– eye glasses that help us to see more clearly.
It’s good for me to have the opportunity to look through Margie’s fresh eyes, to see the way we do the things we do, especially our Sunday morning services, as well as our special holiday services, and all the things we do from Monday to Saturday.
Margie is helping me to look, again, at things I’ve been doing here for twenty-three years; she helps me to think about how things might be done differently. She’s helping to give shape, form and substance to the work of ministry, both here at the church and within the wider community.
She’s helping to define who we are, and what we’re becoming. David Walsh, author of parenting books, says, “Whoever tells the stories defines the culture.” The stories you tell here, when meeting with one of the ministers, or in candle lighting, or in small group ministry sessions, or committee meetings, or during coffee hour, help to define us. Those stories define our religious culture, our congregation. Just as the stories the ministers tell help to define us, to give us a definition.
I’ve been interested in the subtle ways become who we are, as individuals. The story we tell ourselves about ourselves defines us. In a sense, each of us has a personal mythology – the story of our own life. Like all mythology, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are Truth stories, even if they’re not historically accurate. A video recording of our lives might be more accurate, but it wouldn’t be the Truth, as we see it.
It’s good to have Margie on board. And it’s good to have you on board! See you soon.