This reflection marks the end of the first leg of our walking along the 12 Scripture path. The journey started with our annual church retreat in the fall of 2012. The Pastoral team thought it would be a wonderful exercise for the Blossom Hill congregation to explore our favorite passages of scripture, individually and as a faith community. Therefore, at retreat, the adult session was designed around introducing and beginning the 12 Scripture project journey.
Rev. Sue Conrad Howes led us through a very interactive process of sharing our favorite scripture passages with each other and displaying them. After the retreat, Rev. Conrad Howes tabulated the results, and from that list, we began the discernment process. This process included Blooming Café conversations, Adult Forums Sunday School classes, handouts, announcements and invitations by email. All along the process, we were intentional about inviting and including the youth. All along the way, we were asked to think about how the particular passage reflects the “we” of Blossom Hill.
As we got closer to the end, it became more and more difficult. Favorite verse(s) did not make the list. For others, they didn’t understand how or why a particular passage reflected the “we” of Blossom Hill. I received a note that, I think, reflects the difficulty and the trust that this process needed:
I give up! I can’t eliminate any of these and I want to add one. For me, choosing 12 makes the project impossible but I am willing to accept what the church decides.
I had imagined that it this would a simple and straightforward process. I thought we would have the 12 passages chosen by the end of the year and we could start the new year, reflecting on a passage a month- yeah right! However, in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate, we had to SLOW down. As a church, we also had other church obligations that needed more immediate attention. Also, for some, reading the scriptures carries painful memories. So as they wanted to participate, more time was needed to work through the memories as they read the scriptures. I learned is that people are at many different places in regards to the primacy of scripture. Although all agree that, as a Christian faith community, the scriptures are and should be important, some struggled with the ghosts of the past. We see these 12 as a way to articulate who, what and how we see ourselves today and not enshrine these particular texts as the ‘Blossom Hill doctrine’ for all times. Perhaps the church may consider this process a way for the church to practice corporate spiritual discernment, every decade.
Second, in spite of the times and opportunities given to encourage and invite people to provide their input, there are some who feel like that didn’t have an opportunity to participate. What I have learned is that although we tried to be as transparent, honest and open as possible- we have not been able to, nor can we, please everyone.
Lastly, the Sermon on the Mount is very important to this community. What this means, to me, is that Blossom Hill really holds the words of Jesus and the Anabaptist canon close and dear. I would like to see us, in some way, do intensive and creative study of Matthew 5-7 maybe at the year-end or beginning of the year. Again, I see it as a way to remember who “we” are and whose we are.
Shout out to all who participated! Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to the looking and living into The Twelve We Love.
Isaiah 40: 27-31
Matthew 22: 34-40
Mark 10: 13-16
Luke 15: 11-32
I Corinthians 12
1 Corinthians 13
* For more information about the project, click <a title=”MC USA” href=”http://www.mennoniteusa.org/2012/03/06/engaging-the-12-scriptures-project/” target=”_blank”>here</a>.