I sit here in the early morning reflecting and thinking. It is what I do. I have been here in Missouri for the past day and a half or so to attend Community of Christ’s 2016 World Conference. It is here that I often feel at home, no not Missouri, but the intentionally gathered global community of disciples of the Living resurrected Christ. It is here, as I meet my sisters and brothers from around the globe, hear their many voices, their many tongues, see their various expressions of being… that I find myself at home. It is within this setting I find peace, I find hope, I find the living expression of Christ most fulfilled. Even with the backdrop of the financial struggles of the institution, the various struggles of the world, and of my own life, I find that hope and peace as I see, feel, hear the Spirit move amongst this global family and its diversity.
I arrived at Community of Christ headquarters on Friday a few minutes before 1pm. As I attended the Daily Prayer for Peace service at 1, my heart filled with joy as we sang together and though most sang the English words of the hymn, I heard nearby some signing French, found myself singing (not well) in Spanish and then English, and heard in the distance Spanish as well. As I walked around the complex to register and prepare myself I heard various languages being spoken in conversation, some that I could identify and some that I could not. I saw the signs in 3 languages, and also a few sadly in but just one. I felt a wonderful sense of community, of peace, and hope. As I sat within the conference chamber as the First Peoples congregation blessed this space and presented the Eagle Staff, I felt a wonderful presence. In just over 2 hours’ time, I had been blessed greatly, and encountered the Holy.
Then I was blessed again in the spirit of Community. You see as I was flying out here, and even before, I was reflecting on how every World Conference I had stayed with others, in their homes. Even though I did not always have the opportunity to spend much time with them, I was blessed with the time I did have, and for the welcoming environment of their various homes. This conference however, I had stumbled a bit on making arrangements and had yet to find a home for the week at the time my parents offered to pay for a hotel for me, as they had planned on going but changed their plans to visit my uncle in Wyoming instead. While I appreciated the place to stay, a part of me was saddened that I would not have the opportunity to accounted other, and the opportunities that would provide. I had reflected fondly on those times when the blessing of hospitality led to encounter with my sisters and brothers of other lands. Then as I walked across the World Plaza, I encountered the Boltons and within minutes I found myself asked if I had a place and invited into their home, to which I graciously accepted and made arrangements to cancel my hotel reservations (well reduce them from the week to just one night). Now I am staying in an international home, with sisters and brothers from around the globe. Less than three hours and blessed so many times.
Saturday the blessings continues as I encounter old friends and acquaintances and meet new ones, all my sisters and brothers in Christ. Conversations shared in walkways and over food, hugs, handshakes, and other forms of greeting exchanged… Joy flooded through me as I heard the bagpipes, heard the organ, as watched the flags of the nations unfurl and realized the blessings of being not just in a global faith community, but being in the presence of that global family even if just for a brief period of time. Joy contained to flood as my ears reached out to hear past the nearby English voices to the voices signing in other tongues and as we sang hymns with long heritage within out movement. Then it was off to share in table fellowship some more before heading to the International Peace Award Ceremony.
I found my way into the balcony and sat by myself allowing myself to reflect and ponder as I encountered song and spoken word. As I reflected upon peace, and listened to the words of the 2016 International Peace Award Recipient: Leymah Gbowee. Through this encounter finding quiet pause, hope, joy, and peace…