Eavesdropping on conversations was a theme that ran through the recent meeting of Mission Council. A fuller sharing of the work of the meeting will be available elsewhere on the main URC website. Synod representatives have their
own responsibilities in the chain of communication but let me give a Moderators perspective. For John Ellis and me and our chaplains this was the last opportunity to shape the worship and the business of the Council. We eavesdropped on the conversation between Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well. A story that invites us to cross boundaries, to drink deeply and to share good news.
The United Reformed Church is a gathering of diverse people and some of us have strong opinions we like to promote. We are at our best when we give as much energy to listening as we do to speaking. When we eavesdrop on the kind of conversations that speak of deep needs, hurts and hopes we connect in a way that changes us. Some of those conversations at Mission Council were around missional discipleship, safeguarding, the development of Church House,
the future of General Assembly and the migration crisis. In other apparently procedural and legislative conversations there lurked the increasing tension of being an organisation dependent upon the generosity of volunteers. A generosity that is tested to the limit by the demands of a world culture that is increasingly litigious and bureaucratic.
When we are being bullied by contemporary culture it becomes harder to accept the challenge to imagine the future and to give space to the risk takers. Yet I remain convinced that the story of Jesus engaged in conversation with a Samaritan women challenges us to give space to the outsider. It is the poet, the sculptor, the artist, the story teller that can have us running to tell of the saviour of the world. Safety has its part to play but we need to take some risks if we are to catch up with the God who is dancing into tomorrow.