#UCCSynod: Lilies

#UCCSynod: Lilies

One in series of posts by Southern New England Conference delegates to the 34th General Synod of the United Church of Christ.

I know when I am really tired. It’s not when I am sore or grumpy or lethargic. It’s when I get weepy. And as we were going through this morning’s prayer service, I got a little weepy. Because I felt so inadequate before all that I saw. Here were all these accomplished people, with fancy sounding jobs and who seemed to know everybody, and I thought, “How did someone like me ever end up here?” But despite feeling a bit down on myself, I felt remarkably accepted. Because despite all my mistakes and imperfections, I knew I was still loved. I felt the Holy Spirit moving through the (honestly, mostly empty) room, as I had felt it all through Synod, from the air flight to the plenary hall to waiting for the elevators and everywhere in between. I felt remarkably loved and blessed. I felt lifted up to shine as God intended me to do.  
I had an experience of utter inadequacy, but I also had a feeling of utter grace and acceptance. It was not from anything anyone said or did. I was loved not despite of who I was, but because of who I was, big mess and all. The people up on stage, praying about being in God’s garden, and the others scribbling with colored pencils next to me did not know it, but for that moment, they were vessels of grace.
Our keynote speaker, Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, gave a remarkable speech about her own anxieties, regrets, and feelings of inadequacy. But while she felt that the various foundations of her life — democracy, denominations, even her body — might fail her, she found comfort in the gospel when nothing else would do. Rev. Bolz-Weber quoted one of my favorite passages from Matthew, about not worrying. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” When we are able to accept that God’s love is stronger than our worries, we can notice the flowers that God loves so much that we did not even know were there.
As I went walking around the city this evening, still beaming from worship, wisdom, and protest, I saw some lilies growing in the park. And I thought, “Rev. Bolz-Weber was right.” I had quieted my shame and doubt. And that’s when the flowers appeared. Even when we feel like manure, God reminds us that we are meant to grow and shine with our own special beauty.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Gregory N. Baker

Photo by Rev. Gregory Baker


gregory n. baker.png
Gregory N. Baker

Rev. Gregory Baker is the pastor of the United Chruch of Assonet, MA.

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