Sunday, May 5, 2019

2019.05.05 Rich Blooming Thanks and Farewell

We have had such a week of riches I hardly know where to begin writing about it all—like choosing between dark chocolate and red wine.  So I’ll start at the end this week and work my way back, hoping to sustain the rest of Easter’s 50 days with glories. 

Dick and I have been the Diocesan Coordinators for the EfM program for nine years. With a combination of deep sadness and a ready-to-be-done feeling, we passed the proverbial baton onto, well yes, younger people with just as much zeal and skill. EfM is a program of adult Christian formation that engages small seminar group participants in sophisticated curricula about their religion (Bible, both testaments, Church history, theology up to the present day) through a process of theological reflection (affectionately called TR) by which group members connect biblical material and other historical and theological resources with their own lived experience.

How is God in this with you? is always the spiritual question and quest.

Example: “There are days I, (a junior high public school teacher) feel like Moses trying to guide a group of frightened hormonal teens through unsteady waters and a desert to a promised land where they can discover their own core convictions, values, and gifts. I talk to God a lot, a lot. I feel often like a failure.” The group identified with “Mosaic” frustrations and sought ways in which God’s presence was there for Moses—and for them. Moses became a biblical prayer partner, modeling faith, endurance, persistence and prayer conversations with God.

EfM participants get to share and to know each other well over four years of study, prayer and experiential TR. In knowing and sharing, participants mature in their faith, connecting their own faith story with the stories and wisdom in their faith tradition.

As Coordinators we inaugurated the team coordinator model here. We are only the third EfM coordinator in Massachusetts since 1983. We have set up regular training events for mentors whose “Mosaic” task is to guide groups in theological reflection toward spiritual maturity. Mentors needs support and collegiality. We have hosted mentors’ meetings, often twice a year ,over the years. We have been available for advice and supervision of mentors and groups as needed. We have hosted mentor trainers from out of state on occasion. We have supplied comfort food, especially M&M's and wine, for mentors in training.  We have advocated for and promoted EfM wherever we can throughout the diocese. We have worked hard to make the diocese aware of EfM and its illuminative spirituality. Even so, the Episcopal Church has identified a crisis in formation for adults. We do well by children and youth, but with adults not so much.

We have great confidence in the new Diocesan Coordinators: David Bresnahan and Laurie Brown. To the group’s delight and ours, they led us in a TR as a way to say good bye: a TR on Lyn and Dick. They listed all the pluses and minuses of our ministry and came up with a metaphor for how we have served in this ministry: Yin and Yang.
We explored and identified with the image through everyone’s experience and feelings. The group had many insights about the porosity, vulnerability, challenges, tensions, temptations, and flexibility of our image. We shared laughter, joy, and some tears too.

To close, we wrote a Collect together and the group laid their hands on us as we sat in their midst—hands of love. Here we are posed in front of the Collect we all composed.

The Collect, in case it is not legible enough:

O God of yin and yang;
You pour your love into us and gently hold us in tension.
We ask that you keep us open to “both/and” so that we know the other in ourselves.
In the name of the Cosmic Christ.  AMEN.

I can’t imagine a more powerful or enlivening way to receive authentic thanks and farewell, profound and not sentimental, from this awesome group of bright mentors.We experienced God in this Incarnational process, feeling the energy of the divine spirit caressing and strengthening body and soul at once. Add a gorgeously decorated sweet chocolate and vanilla cake and PERFECTION.

Thank you blessed and beloved mentors.  Thank you. EfM is yin/yang, right?