A retired minister in the Florida Conference has also been a generous donor of time and dollars to causes he finds worthwhile. It was about a year ago he donated some beautiful benches and chairs for use at our Conference campus where we are also creating a space for a portable labyrinth for prayer and meditation. When I asked him about a dedication for his gift he suggested they might be dedicated to ‘all clergy spouses who wait, and wait, and wait.’ In this dedication, he was remembering with loving fondness his own spouse and the role she played throughout his ministry, a role that often involved waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
I thought of the Southeast Conference today as I remembered that dedication. I took my lunch box out to one of those benches and remembered that they are there for people who wait, and wait, and wait. In true preacher-ly fashion, three things came to mind while I ate my sandwich. I’ll share them with you today ….
First, waiting is not a waste of time. Indeed, waiting can be redemptive. Isaiah chapter 40 reminds us, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah doesn’t say that waiting is easy, but it is worthwhile for those in search of renewal. The Southeast Conference is in search of renewal. Wait well.
Second, in Florida our waiting space is alongside the prayerful and meditative space of the labyrinth. Even as some people wait, we are moving with deliberation toward a centering known today only to the Spirit. Some people will participate in the journey; others will participate by watching or wondering or worrying or wandering. As all of these roles get played out in the Southeast Conference, I invite you to remember most of all that this time to which we are called is a prayerful and meditative time that involves moving toward an unknown that is full of promises but which also necessitates a journeying together on our part.
Finally, our waiting space, our prayer space, our labyrinth, are all made possible because someone was generous in their philanthropy and made a gift that makes our reflections possible. Those donors don’t know what the future holds for the Florida Conference but they choose to make an investment in now. They place faith in a God who says, ‘can you not see it? I am doing a new thing!” I invite you to similar faith. Indeed, I invite you to similar generosity. Make a gift in this season of thanksgiving to the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. Become a donor who invests in the now of our life together. Join your dollars to your waiting, to your praying, and to your journeying with partners across the church who anticipate that God yet has need of us here and will birth a new thing with us in due time.
I pray for your renewal daily as I give thanks for the ministries of the Southeast Conference and I invite you to be at peace, and be in touch, won’t you.
Consulting Conference Minister
and Florida UCC Conference Minister