I was struck by how these words reminded me that I have this one life, this one moment to discern and respond to God’s call, and specifically this one opportunity to help move this Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ into the future. I was reminded again that God has invited me to respond to God’s love with my very life – “the fire of love” in my flesh and my bone. I do not want to miss this chance; I do not want to fail to give this my all. I do not want to miss out on an amazing opportunity to help bring God’s kin-dom into this place and this time – in southern New England in the 21st century.
“Here in this place the new light is streaming; now is the darkness vanished away; see in this space our fears and our dreamings brought here to you in the light of this day. Gather us in, the lost and forsaken; gather us in, the blind and the lame; call to us now, and we shall awaken; we shall arise at the sound of our name.
Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven, light years away: here in this place the new light is shining; now is the kingdom, and now is the day. Gather us in, and hold us forever; gather us in and make us your own; gather us in, all peoples together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone.”
(© 1982 GIA Publications, Inc. Learn more about the hymn here.)
So… I will take this opportunity today in this reflection: I believe and trust that God is calling the Rhode Island Conference into a new future. I believe and trust that this future will challenge all of us with new vision and certainly some new ways. I believe and trust that the shared and combined resources of our three historic UCC Conferences (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) can empower greater ministry than any one of us can accomplish separately. I believe and fear that the structures of yesteryear may indeed limit the church of today and even thwart the church of tomorrow. I believe and trust that if we come together as one United Conference for Mission and Ministry we can indeed be stronger, bolder, more faithful, and even more vital.
I am very much in favor of coming Together, As One! (Read more here.)
In the coming weeks between now and the joint annual meeting of our three Conferences (June 16 & 17, 2017 ) I invite you to pray for this historic meeting. Elsewhere on this website you will find resources for a prayer calendar that can help us all focus in the coming weeks.
Each of our RI UCC churches has the privilege to send to the June 16 & 17 meeting:
- 5 voting delegates,
- Plus 1 additional delegate for every 100 members or major fraction thereof,
- Plus each church delegation shall also include at least 1 youth delegate,
- Plus all authorized ministers – ordained, commissioned, or licensed
Registration will open soon… Please consider being a part of this significant event in June.
Yours in Christ
Interim Conference Minister
Rev. Barbara J. Libby