Over the past two weeks much conversation in the formation networks of the Episcopal Church has centered around a budget that in reality is not terribly different from the one that preceded it. There are cuts (there are always cuts), there are funds moved from one line to another, but it is not what I would consider a hugely creative document.
On the other hand, it has inspired some pretty creative thinking and some open and honest conversation. I don’t think I have heard so many “what ifs” and “I wonders” in such a short period of time since I began working for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society three years ago. I wonder if we can keep it up.
At the moment there is a need in our midst to engage in creative conversations of wonder about the nature, identity and form the church is called to take in the 21st century. There is a need for spaces of intellectual and spiritual play and creativity where impossible realities can be spoken and explored, where we can speak from both exuberance and despair, with kindness and hope, without fear or judgment. There is a need for multiple and varied open-ended futures to be articulated and refined, engaging each other in the search for God’s call amongst us.
This Lent we are exploring creativity, and we invite you to find creative ways to engage the imagination of all generations about the future possibilities for our church, to expand the conversation from leaders and church-nerds to all of the members of our communities in ways that are more compelling than numbers and politics. How might you engage this creative potential in your midst? Will you tell the specific and personal stories of what the church has meant in the lives of the many generations that make up your community? Will you make a collage of what the church is meant to be in the world using photos from your past, clips from the media and art from your own hands? Will you write new liturgies and hymns that call the church into creative imagination and bless that process and the voices that make it possible?
This forty-day season of Lent and this 4-month season leading up to General Convention offer an opportunity not for squabbling over dollar amounts and fighting to maintain existing programs, but for truly diving into the transition we are living, with creative and open imaginations, with trans-generational listening and sharing, and with the assurance that God is calling us into something new and it will take all the creativity of all our members to define and develop that new thing.