Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eastern District Synod Evening Vesper Worship

This devotional material was prepared for the
2008 Synod of the Moravian Church--Eastern District.

Scriptural Inspiration

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2: 1-2

Devotion Notion

Can you think of a time when you have been especially purposeful? A time when you knew exactly what outcome you needed to achieve and felt compelled to push onward until you completed the task? This slice-of-life story is about such a pursuit.

All he wanted to do was plant a little garden to see what would become of the 3 inch tall bean seedling his pre-school teacher had helped him start in a Dixie cup. The only trouble with my son’s simple request was that our yard was populated with an assortment of maple, birch and crab apple trees. Under such a canopy of lovely shade, we were hard pressed to find any one patch of ground kissed with enough daily sunlight to cultivate a crop.

“But I see a sunny spot,” my four-year-old pointed out with enthusiasm. A tiny square of brightness lit up the fence line in the very back corner of the yard.

“You’re right!” I exclaimed. “Let’s keep an eye on that spot and see if it stays that way.” We went about our chores and playtime. After lunch, we checked on the sunny spot.

“It moved!” Daniel observed. The sunlight now came down in a wide swath in the exact middle of the backyard, right beneath the clothesline.

Periodically throughout the rest of the day Daniel checked on the progress of the traveling luminosity. And that’s when it hit me. If the available sunlight in our yard was going to shift, then any garden plot would need to shift with it.

The next morning, Daniel and I headed for the garden center where we picked out 3 patio containers, potting mix, kid-friendly dirt-digging tools, a cucumber vine and a cherry tomato plant. Eagerly, we potted up the new greenery along with the baby bean stalk. . . and loaded our terra cotta collection onto Daniel’s little red wagon.

From that moment, our summer agenda was set. We became devoted to moving our wheeled garden 4 or 5 times a day, forever seeking the sunlight. Sometimes we’d anticipate it, sometimes we’d chase it, but we always pursued it with devotion. Sometimes we’d approach the task with gleeful giggles, sometimes we’d be cranky and bored of making the effort, but we remained dedicated.

And what was the outcome? Together we experienced the joy of discovery as we watched the plants grow and blossom and develop fruits which we were eventually able to harvest and devour! We realized that wanting to achieve our goal meant that we had to be observant, think creatively, work diligently, keep each other encouraged and stay focused. We learned that no other beans, tomatoes or cucumbers on the planet could possibly taste as delicious as ours!

And then there was the lesson about purposefully following the Light.

But I’ve no doubt you’ve already picked up on that.

A Purposeful Litany

Holy One, our day started with purpose. With one goal in mind, we packed suitcases and laptop cases and briefcases; we filled our vehicles with bags and bodies and Books of Order; we followed our maps and our GPS devices and our homing instincts; we arrived and unloaded and embraced; we assembled, we convened. . .

We began this Synod.

We began to build a temporary community upon the solidly permanent foundation of your love—a community which would be Church and represent Church, a community which would define Church and celebrate Church.

Thank you, God, for the Church which we treasure, and for Jesus Christ whom we adore.

Jesus Christ whom This configuration in which we gather tonight is new to us. We have never before been with this exact group of people in this exact place. As we make connections and establish relationships make us mindful of those in our midst who may be anxious in an unfamiliar setting among unknown faces.

Calm our apprehension and remind us that in this room there are no strangers—only Brothers and Sisters with whom we are not yet acquainted.

Make us mindful of those in our midst who have a history of involvement in denominational assemblies such as this.

Inspire us to share any wisdom our experience has caused us to acquire while keeping any shreds of cynicism at bay. Prevent us from being burdened by preconceived notions and open our minds and hearts to your creative visions.

Make us mindful of those in our midst who have passion and energy for achieving particular solutions to particular issues.

Help us to listen well to all who are called to be here and to respect the views of our fellow Moravian Christians who also trust you passionately and energetically.

Make us mindful of one another’s cares—both the dreadfully heavy worries and the winsomely light joys that tip the scales of our hearts. In this protected space and time, hear the petitions we offer silently or aloud:

(Anyone may offer a sentence prayer.)

We will continue to build this community over several days, and as we do, let us be aware that we are also uniting to build the Realm of God.

This is our purpose! This is our task! This is what draws us together and motivates us! We are one in mission and one in call. Amen.

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