A Message From Pastor Margaret
May we be blessed with a spiritual creativity...
This past week I attended the inaugural lecture
of my former professor, Dr. Dirk Smit at Princeton
Theological Seminary. He was my advisor and
mentor during my seminary days in South Africa
and is now based at Princeton. It was an awesome
experience to sit in the “class” again of someone
who made an extraordinary impact on my life as I grappled with the role of women in the church. At the time I was the first woman to qualify for ordination and was still, after more than eight years, waiting for a church to call me. Dr. Smit took me under his wing in my post-graduate research and thesis, which focused on women and men as partners in the church.
In his address he described the sadness of Calvin and other Protestant theologians, both in earlier years and in recent times, over the failure of the church to be one, and that the church needs to take (better) responsibility of its role in public life. He drew from the experiences of the church in South Africa in its prophetic outcry against apartheid, as well as the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, of which I was a member, in its adoption of a confession that proclaimed apartheid as a heresy, calling the church as a whole to be united in its diversity. He explored the identity of the church as the Church of Jesus Christ in Communion with God and with one another. He also drew from specific world gatherings through the years where the church acknowledged its divisive habits, and that it needed a spiritual creativity to heal its failures.
I felt extremely inspired during his presentation, because it was a reminder to me about the power and importance of the church as a living organism where God is, the place where we gather and are in relationship with our Creator and with one another. It speaks to the responsibility we have to keep the dream of God alive; that there be living communities of faith everywhere, and that each one of us has a responsibility to be spiritually and physically present and creative in our own ways to make that happen. It is also our call to be in a spirit of sadness and confess when we fail to keep the dream of God alive and fail the call of the church of Christ to be together, and not apart.
The implication of all of this means that we have to be present and available as much as possible within and among the community; to grow together in the witness and teachings of Christ, and to be in prayer together, in order for the church to grow and be meaningful and have its rightful and authentic place in public. Being the church together means being in communion together, being at peace with God and one another. This living and loving organism will then, through the power of God, be a witness to the world and its challenges.
Dr. Smit’s presentation spanned a few centuries, reflecting on the accomplishments and failures of the church in its broadest sense. The message about the church then and now is the same. I am grateful to have heard a message that confirmed for me what we have here together, a community of faith aware of its strengths and weaknesses, a community humbled and relying on the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit in all we need.
May God continue to bless us here at Barre to be one, and to grow in our spiritual creativity.
God bless you all,