The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
You can tell what's informing a society by what the tallest building is. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. When you approach an eighteenth-century town, it is the political palace that's the tallest thing in the place. And when you approach a modern city, the tallest places are the office buildings, the centers of economic life.
-Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
The instinct to build, it would seem, is baked into our very DNA. From humble abodes to cathedrals, capitols, and towers that scrape the sky, we shape the world around us with our hands and our ambitions. I see it on my commute every morning through tree-lined residential neighborhoods of Saint Paul, along Summit Avenue, passing the Cathedral on my left and downtown on my right, and heading straight on to the Minnesota State Capitol - shining in its newly restored beauty. I also see it as I traverse the Iringa Region, where mud brick and German colonial buildings exist side by side and street corners are marked by churches, mosques, and temples of all denominations, types and persuasions - each building a reflection of those who built it and a certain way of viewing, ordering, and understanding the world.
Our companion synod relationship with the Iringa Diocese of the ELCT has also been shaped by the instinct to build. From the carefully manicured campuses of the University of Iringa, Ilula Hospital/Nursing School, and all six secondary schools to hundreds of chapels and churches in village preaching points, the built landscape tells the story of our life together - at least in part. Recorded in brick and stone is evidence of our successes and our failures, signs of growth and marks of decline. In concrete, physical forms, they show where we (our companions and us) got it right and where we missed the mark. In all these and the other projects we pursue together there is much to learn and much to celebrate.
At this year's BKB Fall Festival we'll explore this instinct to build, give thanks for all that we have accomplished together, and make space to learn from one another about best practices when it comes to engaging in congregation to congregation activities. Understanding projects to be one of the 'pillars' of Bega Kwa Bega and a key activity for growing closer to one another, through speakers and learning sessions we'll be better equipped to pursue them on a firm foundation that is marked by Christ and the love of God and neighbor. It promises to be an inspiring morning and I can't wait to see you there, at Roseville Lutheran, on November 10 from 8:30am to 12:30pm.
With gratitude and joy,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop