The Oasis - January 20, 2021
Author: Rev. Eric Dupee
January 21, 2021
Rev. Eric Dupee
I was so pleased by the conversation that took place yesterday over Zoom regarding the solar farm proposal before our church. Not everyone was of the same mind, but each listened to the other. There were disagreements, but the conversation remained respectful. In a sermon titled “Finding Our Congregational Way” delivered by my colleague, the Rev. Dale Rosenberger, he wrote, “In a word, we believe the gathered community is the true vessel of the Spirit of Christ. As a congregation gathered in prayerful deliberation, we best discern the Spirit of Christ.”
I believe that is true. A congregation may not always make the right decision, but the congregation is the “vessel of the Spirit of Christ.” We have our best shot at getting it right when we prayerfully discern together. Rosenberger goes on to say, “The reason we listen to individuals receptively with respect is that we never know whom the Spirit of Christ might choose to speak through in any given time. It could be anyone!” I hope you will add your voice to the discussion at the next Zoom informational meetings on Thursday night or Sunday afternoon.
As a new president is sworn in today, I’m reminded of the role Congregationalism played in the shaping of American democracy. Historians indicate that the practice of holding the Town Meeting comes directly out of the Congregational Meeting. At one time, all the town’s business was taken up in the Congregational meeting. Taxes were typically collected at the church. Eventually, civic and religious concerns were split, with religious concerns being addressed in the Congregational Meeting and civic concerns being addressed in what we call the Town Meeting.
On this historic day, I’m finding myself grateful for the traditions of congregationalism. I have deep appreciation for the notion that knowing our history truly helps us to understand the present, to discern God’s desire for our community of faith, and to navigate the difficult decisions we are called upon to make. The United Church of Christ has adopted as a motto the prayer of Jesus, “That they may all be one (John 17:21). Today, that is my prayer.
A prisoner of hope,