Every two years we rush around in a frenzy to get ready for the church's family reunion — General Synod. National staff and boards, Conference delegations and visitors are attending to all the details necessary to make sure everything is organized and in place.
Like any other family reunion, there are a special set of requirements for the host family. We want to clean the house, mow the lawn, plant the flowers, wash the car and take out the garbage or recycling to make everything just right. Will we remember everything to get ready for company? I can only imagine all that is going on in Grand Rapids this month.
Maybe we worry because we don't want the family to be disappointed, or that they'll talk about us after they've gone. But I don't think so. I think it's more about hospitality. We want everyone who comes to feel welcome and comfortable. That's what I imagine is going on in the Local Arrangements Committee of the Michigan Conference. Are we ready?
To our family in Grand Rapids, we are thrilled to be coming to your house to visit. We are so grateful for all your preparation and generosity. To our family in Grand Rapids and throughout the Michigan Conference, please know that if every single detail is not perfect, we will still feel welcome and comfortable!
Many have a much longer history with General Synod than I, but I remember my first Synod and how wonderful it was to be there with the hundreds and thousands from across the church. Many of those encounters have turned into life-long friendships. I left that Synod with a new and expanded view of the church — the United Church of Christ in action, filled with passion and compassion.
It is not so much about where we met, but about who we met at this fabulous UCC family gathering. We're never quite ready for that amazing experience.
I will be the first to admit that I prefer my family's reunion be harmonious and limited in controversy and drama. But, really, that is not the church and even less the UCC. Considering who we are, we should not expect it to be any other way. We should be ready for the commotion that will be part of our gathering. Commotion can be exciting and invigorating if it is grounded in mutual respect and love.
As I read through the proposed General Synod resolutions on the UCC website, I am encouraged by the depth and breadth of our commitment to justice. Nevertheless, I am overwhelmed by the proposed assignments of work to Justice and Witness Ministries. The challenge is how we, together, consider our readiness to take on these assignments with the understanding that every member of the family must do their part to implement them.
We at Justice and Witness Ministries look forward to sharing the responsibility with the whole church, as family. To get ready to live into our resolutions and make them more than just words, but actions that transform our churches, our communities, our nation and our world. God knows that we are never quite ready, but if we are open and willing, God makes a way out of no way.
We're not quite ready, but do look forward to seeing you in Grand Rapids!
Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries Linda Jaramillo is a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.