Bishop Hughes shares a piece of advice from Catherine Meeks' book, "The Night is Long but Light Comes in the Morning," that Meeks gives to people who ask her, what should I do? What should my ministry look like? How should I handle this particular challenge? The answer is: Stand still and listen. (Time: 4:36.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. I have been talking with everyone in the diocese for months, for years now about change in the church and about the way I see us changing and that we're already becoming the church that God needs us not only to be now, but where God is calling us to be in the future. We don't know exactly what that looks like, but some of us have embraced it, and we're running with it, those parishes are moving ahead, and those people are moving ahead, they're confident in exploring where God is leading them next. And then we have some people who have just kind of buried their hands and dug their heels in, and they've got their hands over their head, and they're going, "I'm gonna wait this out, when it's over, let me know." Most of us are not on either of those ends. Most of us in this diocese are somewhere in the middle. And we're trying, but we're not sure if that means we've gotten it right. And we're worried and it makes us afraid and nervous and anxious.
And I have been reading the meditations and Catherine Meeks' book and she has one that is just wonderful for this place where we are right now. It's the book that I suggested you to this summer: "The Night is Long but Light Comes in the Morning." It's a series of meditations, they're not in any particular order, you can read the titles and see which one catches your attention. You don't have to do them more than once a day or a week or whatever, there's no schedule, it's up to you when you do them. I've used them several times, and this last one is one that has stayed with me and I share it very often in meetings. And it's because it talks about what happens when you come along something really big. It's on page 184 in her book, and the meditation is called "George Floyd Died, So You Need to Stand Still."
So when you come up against something really big and shocking, or really big and hard, what do you do? And she uses the example of something that she had heard from people who are indigenous in the northwest of the United States, that they prepare children to be lost in the forest. They know they're going to go in the forest, and they know at some point they're going to be lost. And so what they tell children is, when you are lost, you should stand still. Because you see, the forest is not lost. It knows where you are, and if you will stand still and listen, it will lead you onto the path that gets you back home. If you're lost, stand still and listen.
And she says she uses that story all the time when people ask her, what should I do? What should my ministry look like? How should I handle this particular challenge? She's speaking a lot of the times with people who are active in social justice issues, or trying to figure out how to get their church moving in a certain issue. And what she will say to them is, stand still and see what the Spirit reveals to you. Do what you have the energy to do, not what knee jerk response you can make now when you're in the state of outrage, shock or horror, and I would add to that, or worry or fear. But what is it that your soul needs you to do? No one can hear that answer except you.
After our months of exploring Sabbath, and each in our own way, and still talking about it, I think these are good questions for us. And so I leave you with those questions. When are you going to stand still? When will you listen? What is it that your soul needs you to do? The days before us are only going to get busier, the needs only more demanding, and the ministry only more challenging. There are people all around us that need to know that they are loved by God and by other people. And we can sit and be worried and be afraid or, we can stand still. And listen. We are the only ones that can hear what the Spirit has to say to us.