Three common words-- Rooted in love. Three words of scripture-- Rooted in love. Three words.
The United Church of Christ began the opening worship of the biennial General Synod on July 11, 2021. Some of us have already been among friends and colleagues in workshops that began the week before. The anticipation of this all-virtual event was great and filled with ambivalence, too.
Every other year the church gathers to do business, to renew friendships, to share joy, and to stretch our hearts and minds to new perspectives. I’ll admit that I haven’t had the same sense of joy as I’ve readied myself to participate. I’m weary of the electronic connections we’ve all had to cultivate and accommodate for the past 17 months. I already miss the casual conversation with people I find myself sitting next to or those I literally run into in the hallways of the convention centers of past synods. And though the issues we will consider through resolutions and plenary sessions are important, they are fraught with difficulty, too. Will we find ourselves united? Can we feel that unity physically separated?
Those three words from Ephesians are part of a longer verse, part of prayerful words of the Apostle Paul: “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, [God] may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”
Leave it to Paul to pull our perspective away from the distractions of life and reorient us to the power of our shared faith. Paul prays not that we just push through parroting words of love; Paul prays that our very inner beings will be strengthened with power through God’s spirit. And that power of God enables us to be rooted and grounded in love. Paul’s prayer calls upon us to notice the changes within so that we might be rooted and grounded in love.
So, as we pull ourselves away from the lives that we live in our homes and offices and join our UCC colleagues from around the world, can we remember our shared roots, but also remember that those roots hold us in the very power of God’s love?
Tuning in to the opening worship was a binding experience. Hearing the words of welcome. Acknowledging the debt we all participate in as we gather on lands that were the historical homelands of native peoples. Rooted in time and space. Music and lyrics reminded us of God’s powerful, common roots. Powerful words. And, in numerous different places and circumstances, we were joined in devotion and praise and honesty. This is the body of Christ and the tendrils of roots that hold us together. This is the declaration of the power of God that changes us from within so that we are rooted in love.
Over the next week, we will worship. We will do business. We will engage in (some) casual conversations. We will feel and acknowledge the power of our rootedness. And we will be grounded in love so that we might carry that love in prayer and in action to God’s world. May it be so.