That Little Spring

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I had been longing for Spring to arrive.  Last week I saw signs of hope.  I saw some amazing things blossom and flourish.  But it wasn’t in the trees.  It was in the hearts of those people around me.

OK, let me back up.  Last week was an extraordinary time at Stony Point Center in New York.

I had been asked by the Synod to be part of the World Mission US Northeast Consultation.  It was a time of strategizing how we do mission and communicate that within the PC(USA).   It was also an opportunity to connect with one of our PCUSA Camps and Conference Centers.

Stony Point Center is extraordinary.

It is more than a conference center.  It is a place of welcome: welcoming across boundaries, nurturing inclusive community, and cultivating peace and justice.

Yes, I was there for a conference.  I was there to use their accommodations during the day and some simple comfortable guestrooms for my overnight stay.  But what I encountered was so much more.

I was transformed by the intentional multi-faith community that is living there: Muslims, Jews, and Christians – all dedicated to study and the practice of hospitality, nonviolence, peace, justice, and earthcare.

I visited the greenhouses, met some of the Muslim farmers that have come to live there.

I broke bread with Muslims, Jews, and Christians, in addition to some of our mission partners from around the world.  There was a palpable support and building of unity, as we lifted one another up in our individual faiths and found common ground as it related to peace, justice, and nonviolence.

I reconnected with my buddy Rick Ufford-Chase, former moderator of the General Assembly, who I first met in New Mexico at a Presbyterian Assoc of Musician Conference, and him sitting criss-cross applesauce with our youth, engaging in their stories, and drawing them into Mission at the Menaul School, showing the Holy Spirit at work in powerful ways.

I saw the Holy Spirit at work in Rick again as the co-Exec Director of the conference, and the radical hospitality that was emerging at Stony Point, and has been a part of their DNA from the beginning, well before Rick arrived.

But it was more.  It was a time of hearing stories.  There was an openness, a transformation that began within me, as I heard the powerful stories that brought some of these folks together in collaborative efforts.

I believe Stony Point is a beacon of the well-spring that we are called to drink from as Christians.  As the earth cries out for justice, we must engage one another in deeper ways, and seek healing and peace for our souls, our communities, and the world.

What I saw at Stony Point was a hopeful sign that that is already happening.  The shoots of new life are already emerging.  And by the power of the Holy Spirit, springtime will continue to emerge in the hearts and minds of those who dedicate themselves as deeply as those who live and work at Stony Point.

May justice and peace reign.

And may we find where the Spirit is at work in our communities, and join her.

-Matt

 

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