I fly back home this afternoon, from St Joseph, Missouri, where I have been privileged to be part of the ‘Water to Wine’ gathering at Word of Life Church, led by Brian and Perry Zahnd. I have been listening to Brian’s weekly podcasts for some time now and when I heard that he was going to be hosting this gathering, I said to Jane, “I think I need to go to that”.
Once again, it has been a very strategic time for me and, coming at the beginning of the last month of my sabbatical, it has given me an opportunity to review and reflect on all that has been going on…and what re-entry (my July ‘word’) might entail. The town of St Joseph has two particular claims to fame: it was where The Pony Express began and where the life of Jesse James ended (there are museums about both). You’ve guessed it – my thoughts have been very much around the extent to which this sabbatical has been about some things in my life coming to an end, but also about the kind of new challenges and adventures that the Divine might be inviting me to pick up and partner with him in. I came across this very interesting quote this morning in a book I was reading and it got me thinking…
My natural inclination would be to allocate two pages in my Moleskin journal to start ‘Pony’ and ‘Jesse’ lists, but I’ve decided against that. I do, however, have a few pages headed ‘Re-imagine’ in which I have started to jot a few words/thoughts, but I’ll need to let those jottings sit with me a bit longer yet before I share them. Bear with, bear with…
The gathering was made up of about 250 folk from the USA or Canada, in fact I was the only Brit! That was a bit funny, particularly when I opened my mouth and spoke to anyone 😂😂. I was pleased it was a smaller get together and not at all overwhelming or dominated by big personalities. There was an air of humility and it was more of a conversation than didactic presentations.
The big questions that were being wrestled with were really about how our faith, which can often feel a bit dry, uneventful, consumerist, obsessed with certitude and lacking mystery…boring even (?!), can become like fine wine: rich, sought after, desirable…Life-changing? For many of us, it can almost seem like ‘the party’ (aka life!) is so tough and we wonder what it’s really all about – the ‘Wine’ seems to have run out. Yet the response of Jesus in John Chapter 2 is fascinating; as is his Mother’s, when she says to the disciples, “Do whatever he tells you”.
I look forward to catching up with you all over the next couple of months, but in the meantime, I’ll pray that the sense of endings and beginnings, as well as that which is continuous, will captivate our hearts. And may we all remember that the party ain’t over yet!