Discernment May 2, 2014

This Sunday the Virginia-Highland Church is having a Vision Summit. It is part of our process of discerning what God’s dreams are for our congregation. During Lent, we talked about this in small groups and on Sunday mornings. Now we will embark on the next phase as we try to discern who God wants us to be when we grow up. What are God’s dreams for our church?

The great thing is that the church has so much potential. Well, that is great in one sense. My parents used to say that I could be anything I wanted to be, but that sure didn’t help me figure out what to major in when I was in college. Too many options can immobilize us. Trying to do too many things well can dilute our capacity to have impact in one area. Few people and few churches succeed at being and doing all things well.

Discernment is harder than it should be. Wendy Wright, author and Roman Catholic theologian, writes:

… discernment is not simply about resisting what is evil, self-absorbed, or destructive. It is about foundational identity. It is about who we know ourselves ultimately to be. It is about paying attention to the ways in which the limited power we wield, the modest respect we command, the taken-for-granted resources we hold provide us with our primary sense of meaning. To what extent do we “know” ourselves first as civic and church leaders, or as respectable citizens or conscientious parents or homeowners or degree holders or job holders and not at all as beloved daughters and sons of God? We are beloved not because of what we do. We are beloved because we are.

Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment by Wendy M. Wright. Weavings, Nov. 1995

“It is about paying attention.” Attending, being fully present, is clearly the posture of authentic discernment. Our spouses, close friends, and those with whom we work probably have accused us all at one time or another of not paying attention when they are trying to communicate with us, or not being fully present when we are with them. If we fail at that with those with whom we are physical, attending to the Spirit and living in awareness clearly will be challenges for most of us.

Who is God calling you to be? What is God calling you to do with your life? We think we should ask those questions when we are in college, but if you have been out as long as me, the world has changed. Maybe the answer has, too.

by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal

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