In for the Long Haul

Last week when I met a friend for coffee, she showed up wearing a t-shirt she had gotten at an Ani DiFranco concert. It said, “The world owes me nothing. We owe each other the world.”

This is true for us who follow the way of Jesus, my friends. It’s language from one of our secular prophets: “We owe each other the world.” Ethics, from a Christian standpoint, are never just about me and mine; they are always about how we are turning toward God’s vision of shalom, of Beloved Community, for all. And, if you believe that we owe each other the world, then the question is: How do you create the circumstances in which you can offer what you can in the name of Jesus for the life of the world?

As we begin this new program year, school year, and fall season, it’s prime time to ask what you can do now to support your ministry for that long haul, God’s dream of wholeness. The first response I have to that question goes toward personal practices of prayer and wellness – and, depending on how I’m doing that day, an according degree of eye-rolling about how nice it might be to have extra hours in the day for self-care. But, as one of the events below reminds us, self-care is far from indulgent: It’s the fuel that lets us join in offering our gifts back to God. Solo and family practices that keep us well and connected to God are like sleep in that they are non-optional: You can go without them for a while, but the body and soul will exact their due eventually, with accrued interest.

And, less evident, is the wisdom from our tradition that there’s more of that fuel when we turn toward each other as sources of God’s love, wisdom, and passion.  That’s one gift of gathering at the upcoming ECMN Convention – to come together as a network of faith communities and followers of Jesus, sharing wisdom that can undergird all we do for the next year. Likewise, we’ve packed this email with opportunities to find fuel for the Way of Jesus in community. Two blog posts, from the Rev. Devon Anderson and the Rev. Peter Stebinger, offer different ways the authors have turned toward a community to find support, new energy, and inspiration. You’ll find resources and media that offer support for the heavy lifting that comes with putting your gifts into practice.

What can you do now to support your ministry for the long haul? In the midst of ramping up for the fall, this question is well worth your loving attention. And we hope the School for Formation’s workshops, online videos, and courses will be Good News for the sustained ministry you offer for the life of God’s beloved world.