Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34).
While Alison was on retreat, Greg led a congregational reflection on this text. From Greg and Elvira’s notes on the conversation:
The overwhelming image of Treasure was of Sanctuary, as a small boat in the midst of an unsettled and uncertain world. We are being tossed and turned, riding the waves in a safe and resilient place. It’s a place where the truth of the world and ourselves is named and confronted, but with honesty, humility and without ego – an honest little crew.
The Sanctuary boat seeks something beyond reach, accepting it’s beyond reach but persisting anyway. It’s a space which seeks to embody God’s kingdom come, and which teaches that we will experience grace and presence and the way of God in this life now. Here, we aren’t expected to be everything; we don’t need to endlessly strive. Instead, we are encouraged to be just enough. What was said and taught to us at other churches is being reinterpreted in ways which are leading to freedom.
The wind and waves are tossing us, indeed. It’s been a year of sickness, traumatic loss, grief and even death; indeed, many of us have lost people suddenly, unexpectedly, and decades before time. All around us, people are struggling as Covid wreaks havoc; climate catastrophe is unfolding; and war and suffering never come to an end.
Meanwhile, our church is changing. Our demographics have shifted, children have aged, and some households have moved on. People’s priorities changed during lockdown, and they aren’t going back to how things were. Things we used to take for granted, such as a weekly face-to-face gathering followed by a shared meal, are no longer viable in the same form or with the same frequency; and things some of us want from church just don’t happen here.
Perhaps we once thought we knew what church was or should be. These days, it’s being constantly renegotiated, and we don’t really know what the future holds. And while I can confidently say that I believe this time of not-knowing and change is a God-season (here), nevertheless I anticipate stormy seas for a long time yet.
Five years ago, while on retreat, I was invited to do a prayer exercise. I can’t remember its exact nature, but I do remember the drawing which emerged: I sketched a little boat full of people, riding the waves, and I was at the tiller steering towards the Christ star. I am deeply moved that such an image surfaced at Sanctuary while I was again away on retreat.
Too, I am greatly encouraged by the comments. That the congregation drew out a corporate, rather than individualistic, interpretation of treasure, and that the treasure is Sanctuary. That people experience honesty, humility, gentleness and freedom here. That grace is a reality and enough is known to be enough. And that, despite the wind and waves, people have a sense of safety and resilience in the Sanctuary boat.
This Sunday, Sanctuary will celebrate its sixth birthday. Those who plan to stay in the boat will (re)commit for the next twelve months. If you plan to (re)commit, please send me a selfie by Thursday lunchtime at the latest, so I can put together our congregational collage for the next twelve months. And if things have changed for you and you don’t plan to re-commit this year, God speed. May the wind be at your back, go with our blessing … and stay in touch!
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