Speaking generally, the Church is a people gathered to become the body of Christ in the world and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commissioned to commit much-needed acts of kindness and mercy in the face of suffering and despair.
Speaking more specifically now, one purpose of our congregation’s being is to gather all that happens to us in life into a coherent story of meaning and significance. This is one aspect of the process of reconciliation, a process Christ promised as a purpose of His in the world and echoed in the seal of our denomination, the United Church of Christ: that all might be made One.
What does this mean? We suspect that many people feel buffeted by the world, not only struggling fully to attend to what’s important, but struggling even to figure out what’s important. Living radically individualized lives, where everyone is encouraged to speak their truth, and perhaps even to make up such truth from scratch; living lives also within a quite narrow emotional spectrum—spanning from “cool” to “whatever”—we of this postmodern, globalized, and mobilized society might often feel at sea. And it’s easy enough to manage such a state day-to-day. But when something outsized happens—either for good or for ill—we don’t always have the ability to come to terms with it, to integrate it into our lives, to say nothing of sharing it with others.
D. W. Winnicott speaks of a “holding environment.” A mid-century pediatrician and psychoanalyst, Dr. Winnicott appreciated the importance for infants and children to have caregivers who can hold them in mind and to have a larger holding environment to give shape to the child’s otherwise chaotic experience. We consider the Church to be such a holding environment, and we experience this congregation as particularly gifted in this.