Note: Boy, did this ever tarry! While i finished this in the LAX airport, this is my first opportunity to post. Thanks for looking!
I'm starting this early Monday morning [July 1], a couple of hours before breakfast. It's just my second post--where have the days gone... okay and now it's Tuesday morning, our last day of business!
If you've ever wondered what it was like to be a Synod delegate, it's a little like some descriptions i've heard about being in some waterfalls. You're moving along in an apparently quiet stream and suddenly a current drags you into rapidly moving water. You're not unhappy--you chose to be in the rubber raft wearing a helmet and life jacket, and stowing a bag with dry clothes and shoes. You move faster and faster--ooops, there goes your paddle--you are now up the creek without one! Hold on--you are getting close to the edge (oh, but don't worry church, God's got you covered)!
In front of you, you now see the edge, no clue what it might be (well, again, you probably do, but hang wit me--trying to get this on the tablet so the runner can see it BEFORE i leave Long Beach!)--no turning back. Cinch your belts and tighten your helmet straps, and oh yeah, pray! Over! When you get to the bottom--and you do, cause (wait for it) God's got you covered--you find yourself in an incredibly still pool behind a roaring curtain of water, possibly stripped of all clothing, only small bits of yellow rubber mark the passing of your tube--you hope you won't need it again. And you may be wondering whether God's still got you covered, whether you got a little too close to the edge, whether, when you make it through the rough water cascading before you, you find dry land and safety (and, pray God, your bag of clothes--don't even care if they're wet!) or just more edges.
If you are thinking of accepting a call to serve as a Synod delegate, as a four-time delegate i can tell you that this is an apt analogy of my experience: wonderfully exhilarating, sometimes scary and sad, often awe-inspiring--our God is an awesome God and the UCC can be awesome church in all its settings from new church starts to the oldest, from traditional buildings to churches without walls to seminaries to camps--many and varied opportunities to go deep, but always a way to come back to the surface and breathe. Sometimes the work seems overwhelming, fraught with obstacles, messed up with seeming misuse--or even no use--of power and privilege.
I have tried to tell you some of my actual thoughts, feelings, experiences--without success: too many things i want to tell you, but no words at the right time, so, overwhelmed, I've let moments (days) pass in incoherence, in silence. Too late to rectify for this blog, i think, but i'm happy to visit your congregation--or just you--to talk about it, to let you know some of the wonderful things we've accomplished as a church-in-the-world, and what your congregation and/or you might do to learn and help us achieve even more. ANNNND i may not even ask you for monetary support; rather how can the intersection of your heart and your mind give you insight into God's vision of her kingdom? That's where i'm coming from. Come on, let's go do some awesome church together.
Ivy Tillman is a member of the First Congregationl Church, Amherst, UCC.