One last Synod summons to find Christ in the Unexpected Place
The disciples spent the night in the boat, recalled the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, retrieving their lives as fishermen after the crucifixion of Jesus and a resurrection experience they still didn’t understand. But all they got was a boatload of frustration: no fish. The normal was not working.
Then Jesus appeared in the wrong place, summoned the catch in an unfamiliar way, and cooked them breakfast. “And the wrong place becomes the right place,” said the president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), “when we follow the risen Christ to the unexpected place.”
Showing up doesn’t mean just appearing. It means arriving prepared to work. “Synod friends,” she told the General Synod 2015 delegates at closing worship on June 30, “Synod is just about over. It’s just about time to get back to work.”
The work will be done in unexpected places: in Cleveland, and in Charleston, in Ferguson, and in New York, in communities large and small across the nation. “Jesus still appears in the most surprising places, including to us,” Watkins declared.
“Then the living Christ appears to us in the unexpected place, now the perfect place, to display to us the abundant love of God.”
The service as a whole had a subdued, though not somber, character. In the dimmed light, a chorus of voices spoke of the endless night sky, of the break of dawn, and of the return of the light. Flowing melodies floated out over the congregation, raising their voices into each song. The accompanying guitar, recorder, and cello gave a poignant note to this service of farewell.
Watkins and outgoing UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey Black led the assembly through a litany of commitment, acknowledging before God the blessings and obligations of the two communions’ shared ministry. “With renewed commitment to growth toward unity in our ecumenical partnership,” the assembly prayed, “let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Newly elected General Minister and President the Rev. John Dorhauer accepted the gift of a brand new stole from his predecessor, in recognition that he is called to do new things. He, in turn, summoned the worshipers to do the same. “You are a blessed people,” he reminded them. “Go and bless the world.”
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