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New Year, New Day

As we prepare to end 2022 and begin 2023, I am curious about what has stood out for you from this past year?

  • Was it a personal event that comes to mind first?

  • A civic or community event?

  • Maybe something here at church?

2022 has been filled with so many things that I suspect it is hard to pick just one. I know this is true for me. And yet, I keep coming back to the Healing Circles we held last spring. They were deep, intimate, and powerful. I got to see who you are as a community during our three Circles. As someone who deeply values practices that enable healing and restoration on a personal level, but also on a collective level, I was struck by the willingness of this community to do the hard work of sitting in Circle with one another and listening to the pain that has lingered from months, years, and decades past.

One of my curiosities, as it relates to unresolved pain and/or conflict, is the way in which the differences in our religious backgrounds play out between us. There are some who are comfortable with a more demonstrative expression of their faith while others are uneasy with personal "testimony." There are some who enjoy the theological discourse of bible study while others seek the "doing" of their theology in direct action. Some of us are life-long church goers. Other of us are new to this church thing. Yet, all of us have found a place that feels like home here at FCCUCC.

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a [person] changes [their] own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards [them]. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

So, how might we think about our common life and respond when conflict arises in our fellowship?

First, let's celebrate our resources! I have witnessed so much kindness this past year and I feel confident that kindness is an expression of your faith. We ARE people who can say the hard things, be self-reflective, find common ground, and share genuine love for one another.

And, 2023 will be a year when we will face the tallest mountains during this season of transition. How will we be as we think about the budget, our structure, volunteering needs, staffing?

  • Will we voice our fears and dreams equally?

  • Can we hear the love when passions trigger strong words?

  • Are we able to say "Ouch, that hurt," and, conversely, take responsibility for our hurtful words so we can keep moving together through this wilderness?

It is so much easier to quit or ignore the pain and/or conflict, but that just means it will show up in some other form, compounding pain upon pain. Too many people, communities, and families have suffered the outcome of unresolved pain and/or conflict. Let's be different!

Part of our work this coming year will be to keep making space for truth telling, pain sharing and conflict transformation. I will hold more circles to make room for this work. And while, in my perfect world, all segments of society practice Circle Keeping, we can only do what is ours to do, trusting that our actions will have a ripple effect in the world.

My resolution for 2023, as in year's past, remains, "Be the change you want to see." I continue to be humbled to share this journey with you and to be the change we want to see for each other, for Salem, and for the world.

Happy New Year!

Pastor Robin

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