Last Sunday we celebrated 170 years of ministry as the First Congregational Church of Salem, Oregon. What a delight for me to participate in this annual event that reminds and encourages us that we are part of a lineage of justice and love, inclusion and welcome even as we had times of struggle and division over these very same things. I loved the skit created by Dana McBrien based on the movie "It's A Wonderful Life." It reminded us just how big an influence we have had in Salem and across the world.
And what can I say about Gail Gage and her band!
Jazz is close to my heart since my dad has been a jazz drummer all of his life. At 90, he is still gigging with his combo every week. That is a future I want to experience. One where I am healthy and vital, still gigging in my 90's.
My dad is someone who has had an outsized
influence on his community and the world. He spent his vocational life working as a Guidance Counselor in a High School, helping kids find themselves and go for what they wanted no matter how unusual it was. He once got a kid into Clown School with Barnum & Bailey!
He "retired" into contract work with other schools that needed his expertise in program development. Then he moved onto small, local, elementary schools where he was often working with the children of kids he had helped in his High School years. And his last teaching gig was with the YMCA where he developed a program called "Boys Night Out". It was a dinner evening where boys and their dads could spend time learning how to be kind, compassionate, caring men together. While he has gigged as a drummer all of his life, his teaching "gigs" have imbued the world with as much goodness as his music.
As I think about this congregation and our "gig" over these 170 years I am reminded that it wasn't the building but the people that influenced Salem and beyond. It has always been about the relationships and the interdependence that we share with each other, the people around us, the environment, and the systems that shape our collective life as humans on this Blue Ball. It has been and will continue to be the relationships that enable the future we desire for generations to come.
The future needs our willingness to keep leaning toward each other, to keep striving to bring more hope, more kindness, more justice, more love into the world. This is our "gig." I can't wait to hear the music you will make in the years to come!
With Peace and Passion,