Being the hands of Christ – NEYM Staff Report 2016

I currently serve Friends as the events coordinator for NEYM.  In that role, I write a staff report for YM Sessions each year.  It speaks, in part, to my condition and thoughts of the past year.  Here is my report for 2016:

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords? And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51)

I’ve been holding close this year our YM sessions theme of being “Christ’s hands” in the world.  I am sure St Theresa’s reminder was for us to be the hands, the feet, the hearts…. And yet I keep returning to this powerful example of the actual hand of Jesus, healing in an act of love under the most awful of circumstances.  

It provides me with a stunning example of Truth, given in deep Agape/Love.  Both are required of us.  Firstly, the Truth that must be clearly named – a need to clearly say “No more of this!” when violence happens  (even when committed by our own friends and community).  Secondly, it is balanced by the equally important need to heal, to re-member the body that has been injured, a human body, a human heart, or us as a people and the Body of Christ.  

Why am I sharing this story as my staff report, as the events coordinator for the NEYM?  Because through this work of logistics and planning, I am given the opportunity to hold both of these motions, Truth and Love, among us all in everything I do.  

The “stuff” I do, I am pleased to report, is continuing to bear fruit as I lean into the work and learn more every day.  Along with the substantial work of planning and implementing YM Sessions (a year long commitment), I have had the care of multiple committee days, smaller committee meetings, and a large outreach conference.  I have shared our news on our various social media channels, and connected us more widely with Friends in many places. I have joined in a wonderful ecumenical partnership, learning more about organizations and systems, in the Duke Divinity “Foundations of Christian Leadership” program. I have engaged in learning how to share our NEYM good work with others in Virginia Theological Seminary’s “eformation” digital ministry workshops.  I am hopeful and encouraged that our proposed changes to our shape of support and connection for monthly meetings, work of YM committees, and other gatherings will improve our capacity, flexibility, and outreach in the coming year.

If we are called to be God’s hands as we do the work required of us – the way in which I do this work also matters.  As I reflect on this past year, there are times when I too have had (in smaller ways than Jesus, of course!) to say “stop it”.  It’s usually room capacity, fire code, schedule conflicts.  But it is my work to see the bigger picture, and help our ministry to “fit” into the worldly spaces we are given to work with.  Our systems of old are often unwieldy and do not serve the body.  They quite often fall apart in the implementation and logistics.  I am learning how to name that disconnect more fully and helpfully so we can learn from those concerns. But merely improving those systems is not enough.  

In this year, I have been given the deep blessing of learning from my fellow companions on this journey of faithfulness – to remember how we gathered and how our Holy work was shaped in response to our call, and to learn a caution to preserve what is a rightly ordered shape of work in our deep traditions of listening and Quaker practice.   So often, those connections with others (on a conference call, a quiet corner in a dining hall,  or on a golf cart) are what enables me to heal from my own fear of change and growth and the unknown.  The Truth of the work we are called into, and the healing of support and Love in community, feels most right in this work when they are in balance.  We heal as we go.

I hold deep gratitude for all the companions in this journey of service.  I note the particular guidance and support of Fresh Pond Meeting, and my support committee of wise elders that walk beside me in both the troubles and the joys.  I also hold dear in my heart the many Friends who share not only their work requests, but also their time, their stories, their appreciation for my efforts and their understanding and forgiveness when I fall short.  This is a community effort.  I am grateful to be taught that lesson again and again.  I look forward to connecting more widely with Friends of NEYM through this service in the coming year.  

In faith and service,

Kathleen Wooten

 

 

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