Advent Greetings one and all,
I must admit I struggle with Advent sometimes…this season of waiting….I’m excited for Christmas now!! I also struggle with the juxtaposition of waiting and the themes for each Sunday: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Waiting to me sounds like a passive word, but we can’t be passive in our search for Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Our brothers and sisters in BC and Nova Scotia are not feeling hope or love because others are doing nothing. Any hope they are feeling is because of the work of people stepping in to offer support, caring and love. We have to work and be active to bring hope, and peace into the world, by doing that we can share joy and show love.
In every aspect of our lives, we need to be active, not just waiting for things to become better. At our latest fall gathering (it was a pleasure to be with all of you by the way), you may remember that we asked Maggie Dieter to be our Equity Support Team Person, helping to support the leadership in trying to make sure our time together is as supportive of our differences and diversities as possible. We do this because we know that there are always places where we can work and learn and grow to truly live into our desire to be an Affirming Region.
We learned that we constantly need to think about the symbols we use. While a symbol like a chain might mean connecting for some, it can bring about much more hurtful imagery for others. The Covenant Commission with the help of Thérèse Samuel is going to look to find a more appropriate symbol of connection to use in those services.
We learned that the language we use or don’t use is also very important. We offer our preferred pronouns as a way of living into our Affirm Statement, and a way of trying to be inclusive for those for whom the traditional pronouns feel too narrowing or not appropriate. It is an important part of who we are as The United Church and who we are as WOWRC to try to ensure that everyone feels welcome. As an affirming regional council we try to seek room for all and to recognize and name when by our actions we isolate people.
We do a lot right as a Regional Council, but there is always more to learn. These are just a few of the learnings that the executive is taking away from our most recent time together. We are trying to give people hope in our church. We are trying to bring peace and justice to places of division. We are trying to live out our calling as a people of God in joy. We are trying to do all of this with love at the forefront.
May this season of Advent be one of active waiting for each of you as we celebrate and get ready for the birth of ultimate love into our lives once again.
President Mark Laird
Western Ontario Waterways Regional Council