Tonight’s farewell to General Minister & President Geoffrey Black was a jazz tribute composed by incoming GMP John Dorhauer’s son! I got to see the many faces of Geoffrey Black in his tribute but then unexpectedly saw a different side of him in his prayers from the floor of Synod. It all started when one young man from the Connecticut Conference felt our floor actions were losing track of the Spirit of God, and his request for a prayer was answered by Geoffrey. Since then we’ve had many more and what a gift, what pastoral care he has done for us.
Worship here at Synod has truly lit a flame and fanned it in me!
Friday night I went to the Jazz Vespers at Amistad Chapel at the UCC National Offices where Chris Bakriges-composed New Age jazz was set to scissor-cut art by Matisse, with readings about God and art from Matisse’s journal. Amazing!
Saturday we rocked to the gospel choir of Mount Zion UCC and the contemporary band Eleven Fifty-Nine from First Congregational Church UCC of Hudson, Ohio; we heard and saw the scripture danced tenderly by Edward Lawrence; we were blessed by the healing prayer of Rev. Bruce Kafer, an Oglala Sioux, and Rev. LeRoy Bobtail Bear, who prayed/sang in Lakota; we heard music from Palestine and prayers in Cantonese, Spanish and Swahili.
Tonight the prayers of the people were our prayers sent in from Twitter which scrolled on screens with a backdrop of starlight while a gentle meditation on piano and violin from Arvo Part played. The Synod Choir sang the Alleluia from Randall Thompson, and we were given stones to put beneath our pillows like Jacob, to dream of God tonight!
All around me: people moved to tears and challenged, tender and passionate, bold and discerning, dancing and still.
Tonight Rev. Robert Molsberry gave us a theological reflection of standing in the other’s shoes, listening to their stories which only they can tell, starting with his own perspective as a differently-abled man in a wheelchair. It is powerful to be in the presence of so many differently-abled church members and pastors and to see what true accessibility might begin to look like in our churches.
I think what moves me most is people’s faith that glows so brightly here, magnified and reflected back in the faces of each other. Acts of kindness and passionate witness, aching sorrow and prayers for help. At moments I feel like a prism that takes the light in from all directions and reflects out a rainbow – so powerful what the energy of others becomes in me.
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