Going on a Journey: Journeying with Pastor Nancy
August 15, 2017
Greetings from Vacation Bible School! At print time, we are smack-dab in the middle of all the glorious chaos that IS Vacation Bible School. We are having a fantastic week so far, thanks to a whole slew of volunteers, and returning staff. Jamie Lang-Rodean is in her third year as VBS coordinator and as usual has done a stellar job of gathering and leading. The celebration Sunday of VBS will tell a fuller story of what we have been learning and doing together, though allow me the chance to share a brief reflection on one dimension of what we are doing that is sort of, well, “meta.” Our focus for VBS this year has been, Welcome, Neighbor. We’ve been exploring what it means to interact with ‘the other,’ to be ‘the other,’ and indeed to welcome and love ‘the other.’ We’ve examined what Jesus and other Biblical voices say on the topic. And while our heads were focused on those voices of the past that speak eternally through our Holy Scripture, we realized something as plain as the noses on all our faces. As we talked about refugees, nomads, immigrants, and outsiders, we also noticed that we VBS-ers have among us a large number of very recent immigrants to the US, as well as a few children who are in significant geographical transition. We realized that the voices we are seeking through are scriptures are also plainly before us. As we expanded that notion of being in transition further, we realized that all of us have, or will, experienced the feeling of being outsiders, being new, being in between, running to, and running away from. It is these voices that we seek to elevate as Christians—the voices that speak mildly from the corners of our own Parish House Lounge. Our middle schoolers have been having similar experiences of encountering new experiences and new places as they have spent three of the five days in the greater Windham area, learning about what can happen when Christian principles are put in action.
This past July, I had the great privilege, in the midst of my own move, of organizing, hosting, and planning a Native Voices Encampment from Palestine and South Dakota. A minivan with a tipi and Bedouin tent was our roving home for 10 days. During the various events of the Encampment, I and other activists visited various camps and cultural centers around New England, creating space for the voices and music of our Native American and Native Palestinian friends. In each location, they shared their stories, their light, their realities, and their hope. They spoke about being on the outside, and also about being blessed. Our local event here in the Quiet Corner was hosted by CLiCK in Willimantic.
As we prepare for Matt’s sabbatical time away, we are planning for events related to how, where and why we might share our stories, let our voices be lifted, and our experiences elevated for the sake of collective wisdom. Please consider joining us in the process of reclaiming our own voices, and seeking out new ones. The process itself is always a blessing.
With gratitude, excitement, and in partnership,