|On the road with Lori|
NASHVILLE, TENN. – We are on the third day of our cross-country trek, and taking it a little easy on a rainy day. Tomorrow we will tour the Stones River National Battlefield about 30 miles south of here, and then Monday push onward to Memphis. My ancestor – George Richardson, the topic of my sabbatical writing project – was in both places in the Civil War.
But let’s back up a little.
Let me bring you up to date on my sabbatical, particularly the CREDO conference I completed Monday at the Duncan Gray Center in Canton, Mississippi. CREDO is sponsored by the Episcopal Church Pension Fund, and these conferences are designed to help clergy take a step back from ministry and examine what we are doing, why we are doing it, and give ourselves a little pastoral care in the process.
As I got on the airplane for Mississippi, I had a huge feeling of gratitude for the people of St. Paul’s Memorial Church for giving me this time away after five years. And I am enormously grateful to the clergy and staff of St. Paul’s for “holding down the fort” while I am away.
This was the second CREDO conference I’ve attended. The first was six years ago; also at the Duncan Gray Center. At the time I was in-between jobs in the Church. In a very real sense that first CREDO launched me on the path I am on now because it broadened my horizons and my sense of what God might be calling me to do outside of my comfort zones.
|Duncan Gray Center|
This second CREDO was in many ways deeper and richer. There were 30 of us, including several clergy struggling with difficult issues. One member of our CREDO group had his New Jersey church and his home wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.
Other participants were struggling with significant health issues, or life transitions ranging from new positions to retirement. We had a healing service on Thursday of our CREDO week, and there were a lot of tears in the chapel.
The central exercise of our CREDO conference was to identify our personal core values, and then look at how those values fit with our personal “rule of life,” or mission statement. We had a very able faculty with us, and they provided us with personal consultations as we worked on the exercises through the week.
After a lot of work and discussion, here is what I came up with as my top five core values:
• Openness to all people in all circumstances
• God’s dream of social justice, peace and the healing of the planet
• Giving as a way of life
That is not to say that I live up to those values, but rather that these values should guide me in my life and ministry.
From that, I took a new look at my personal mission statement – “Let there be light” – which is also the title of my primary blog, Fiat Lux. That statement came out of my first CREDO conference, and is borrowed from a line in the Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:79): “To shine on those dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death.”
I realized at this second CREDO conference that I needed to expand this statement to fit with my core values, and to do that, all I needed to do is add the line in the Song of Zechariah to make my mission statement complete. So here it is, fuller this time, and again from the Song of Zechariah:
“To shine on those dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death, and guide our feet in the way of peace.”
By the way, the full Song of Zechariah is part of the Morning Prayer service in the Book of Common Prayer, on pages 92-93. I like to read it every morning.
Here is another version, from the colloquial translation called “The Message”:
“God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.”
I will check back with you soon as this journey progresses.
By James Richardson, Fiat Lux