The Writer

 

The United church I serve as a lay worship leader* is a huge building, built by the Methodists in the late 1800s. It's not my "home" church - the church I grew up in - it's the church whose minister went on long-term leave just as I was available to help. I've been leading worship off-and-on, but mostly on, at this church since the summer of 2015. 

Technically, as a lay worship leader, I'm not supposed to serve in any long-term capacity, but ministers are hard to find for diminishing rural churches, and I'm good at what I do. I was born and raised in the United Church of Canada, my mother was a music leader with the church, and I understand the ethos (the characteristic spirit as manifested in beliefs and aspirations) of the United Church. 

My faith and spirituality, and my theology, may no longer line up exactly with that ethos but I am grateful that my early church experience was in a church, and with ministers, who were progressive, inclusive and creative. Come to think of it, that's me now in a nutshell. 

My approach to my work as a lay worship leader is two-fold: 
1) I see myself as being IN SERVICE to the congregation, so the worship I provide follows their traditions and routines while remaining true to my understandings of God, Jesus and scriptures, and to my commitment to inclusive, affirming and welcoming language.
2) I am a writer and sometimes a journalist. I love to ask questions -- particularly Why? -- and I love to read and research. I read widely of modern, progressive Christians and I follow a variety of people on social media. I'm always interested in how other people live, what they believe, and how they manifest a loving, holy spirit in their living and believing.

So there I am, serving a church in a role I never expected to take on (a story for another day), and the large stained glass window that looms over the choir loft, and the entire sanctuary, contains a particular figure. Now, this stained glass window is remarkable not so much for the Christ figure in the centre depicted in all his shiny, dazzling glory -- an image of wealth and power Jesus likely would abhor -- but for what surrounds him: modern (to the 1940s) depictions of men AND women, and children. 

Including the person sitting at a typewriter. A journalist! In a stained glass window in a church. 
Even as I've chafed at this congregation's dedication to the way they've always done things (even when they no longer make sense), the traditional theology, their love of plodding favourite hymns and old gospel songs dripping in blood, and the not-so-subtle "we don't want a gay minister" comments, I've always found my own sense of belonging by gazing at this person in the far left bottom corner who is listening to what Jesus says and writing down how it makes sense to him in the 20th century. 

Or, for us, in the 21st century. 

That's what I'm here for, my friends. Writing about the relevance and the importance of faith, ethics and spirituality in the 21st century -- at a time when the world needs more Jesus. 


(*license pending - I completed the education program in 2019 but the pandemic slowed down my applying)

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