FTE "On Call" Blog
LEAVE COMMENTS FOR THIS POST AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
September 26, 2009
Memories and Revelation
Memorial Day weekend was, in our family, more importantly, the occasion of the oldest grandson’s high school commencement. Relatives from both sides traveled from four cities to celebrate, to visit and to reconcile: remarried parents saw each other for only the third time in nearly 25 years. And all was well, thanks be to God. Even the very 18 year-old grandson, nephew and big brother survived the festivities with grace and gratitude.
Our families were tied together long before my sister and her husband were married: we all grew up in the same congregation. We aligned with a tradition known for its strict adherence to one truth and its intolerance for alternative points of view; the truth was, after all, set out in the Bible which anyone could read. (No need for theological education here.) Our particular congregation, however, was renegade and reviled as heretics. We were branded as liberal.
And now, through a series of events to be told another time, the preacher from our childhood is a member of the family. Last weekend I got to talk to him as an adult.
I asked him to tell me the story of the birth of our congregation. As the story unfolded, I heard in his voice the dreams of young people for a church freed from literalist positions that thwarted the gospel, dreams of a church alive with radical love of God and neighbor, dreams which threatened the status quo. He talked about what it was like to be called a heretic, to have invitations to preach across the denomination revoked because of what he might say, to be alienated from the tradition which formed him.
“How,” I asked, “did you come to see things so differently?”
He said it was a long process. Then he said, “I think, really, it was going to seminary. I learned about other perspectives and I couldn’t go back.” He had a theological education! And one that worked to re-form and transform. Well, well.
Turns out, he went to seminary with two friends also formed in our tradition. I imagine them discovering the riches of theological education together and interpreting what they were learning as a community, putting it all in conversation with their roots. These three men remained friends, colleagues and mutual supporters until one died several years ago.
So, here I am, heiress of this story I did not know, advocating for theological education as necessary preparation for congregational leadership, promoting holy friendships as necessary for flourishing ministry, partnering with a new generation of young adults impassioned by dreams of what the church could be.
Blog comments powered by Disqus