It is meaningful and life-giving to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. At All Pilgrims we join together and find ourselves moved by the Spirit that connects, transforms, and engages us as a body of faithful people. Our collective life is dynamic. It is a regular, common story, for instance, at All Pilgrims that a person arrives, finds something different, discovers that an old hurtful or painful experience doesn’t have to be the defining or dominant experience, enjoys healing and new strength, and moves from wounded to healer in a company of joyous healers. And, sometimes life is not so linear and final, so we may find ourselves with new challenges or pains, but having experienced the God of journey at All Pilgrims, we lock arms and continue our pilgrim walk, knowing that God makes us bigger and stronger, together.
In this season, as leaves fall from the trees, the air cools, and fog blankets our little part of the earth, we are invited to reflect and reflect upon our life together. Consider that this year included deepening connection with the good people of the Iman Center as we shared a viewing of “Trust Me: Salaam, Shalom, Peace,” many vibrant expressions at Pride that put volume to the celebration of God’s love for all, and a charge of additional adult commitment and participation in our children’s ministry. It included a ten year anniversary of the merging of two congregations to become one, new congregation, a farewell to Minister of Music, Ryan Dye and family as they headed to Boise, and a blessed welcome to Stephen Marshall-Ward. Our building has a new roof and strength by retrofitting. We have provided sacred space and ceremony for same-sex weddings in the new era of marriage equality, and our Community Supper ministry served their 25,000th meal!
Some of us remember just over three years ago when this Community Supper ministry was nothing more than an idea and heartfelt desire that was held by a few, including Lise Kenworthy, who is gone from us now, as is Michael Beach, and David Paul, the visionary that crafted our relationship with Iman and our interfaith ministry. While gone in a sense, and we do miss them greatly, they remain among a company of saints on our journey.
Through all of our experiences and accomplishments, we find a foundation of relationships. We find 95% of our worshiping body headed to fellowship to connect and share every Sunday. We find connection points where names are known and church stuff we speak with words like “grace,” “love,” “hope,” “healing and transformation” are embodied and made real. In ministries and spiritual formation gatherings we find each other, faithfully sharing and practicing our faith. I have never been truly moved by “doing church” because of ancestral habit or tradition. I do find it remarkably moving, often beyond my expectation, to be of Spirit knitted relationships that, with all our imperfections, are being church. The wealth of our congregation, and any congregation, is found in the quality of faithing relationship, which is what so many of you do so well. That is what invites, includes, connects, purposefully engages, and allows for new healing and hope and joy.
As we are all called to ministry, I invite you to look around, beyond the interest of “me” and “I,” and see how we look and are together. Not as if from above or beyond, but from within. Look from within as we are all among the walkers on our pilgrim journey, called to co-create with the Spirit a relational space of love and grace. Let us look back and see where we’ve traveled that we may recognize the work of the God who will keep on moving us on with thanksgiving and new birth.