Members of the Women's Theological Group
Photo by David Taylor
by Lorie Martin
GLASTONBURY (04/17/2012) -- I was new to the church, actually still in the visiting phase, when Pastor Kate (associate pastor the Rev. Kate VanDerzee-Glidden) approached me.
“Hey there, Lorie, glad to see you again – listen, I was wondering if you might like to join us for our Women’s Theological Reflection Group next Wednesday? We meet at 8:00 in the morning here at the church. It’s so much fun! Really. It will be a great way for you to get to know some people!"
Theological Reflection Group? Eight AM? Ummmm… As a person whose habits are skewed toward nighttime more than morning time, I hesitated. But what the heck — I’m actually sort of a wonky kind of person who is interested in theology, and talking is one of my favorite activities (just ask my husband) — so okay, I would try it. Besides, what a good opportunity it was to really get to know some people, and to help me decide about becoming a member.
The first time I came, there were about twelve women around the library table: all ages, coffee in hand, makeup optional, bed head totally okay. Already my kind of group. I’m pretty sure we had a topic, but I don’t remember at all what it was. We started with some reflections on some written piece provided by the pastor. We talked, shared and meandered with some guidance from the pastor and the group leader. Theological talk! The next time we took up the challenge of discussing sin, and then it might have been forgiveness, and once it was about happiness. Over the months, we have explored how we feel about the Bible, about evil, about the shooting in the Amish community, about loneliness, and about death.
We are an earnest group. Sometimes we even give ourselves homework, and plan some reading for the next time. Funny, though, that as hard as we prepare, we can’t predict where we will end up. It isn’t always strictly theological, I suppose, but it is usually meaningful. Sharing our Christmas traditions may turn into sharing our feelings of loss at the holiday time. Talking about hell might end up with a member talking about the death of a loved one, or a friend going through divorce, or life with teenagers. All of this we try to unravel in the context of our journey as Christians. We laugh at our own diversions, shake our heads and just give in to it, willing to chalk it up to the magic and mystery of the Spirit in our midst.
After six months, I am still getting to know these women. They have welcomed me, allowed me to babble away, and been gracious in the extreme. The Women’s Theological Reflection Group may not be exactly what I envisioned when I first walked in the door. These sisters intentionally gather and attempt to grapple with important issues of faith, and seeking how these issues are woven into the fabric of life. They trust one another to be honest, make allowances for their differences, hold each other up, and say prayers together. There is a lot of laughing. We nod and shake our heads. There is some sighing. Okay, sometimes we cry. We leave, better for having been there, and glad there will be a next time.
What riches we have mined through this simple act of being together! A beautiful example for me of how church can be our home, our stimulation, our inspiration, our connection, a place where we are more than just the sum of our parts: A place where we are in God.
Theological? Sure, let’s call it that. Reflection? Indeed! Until we can think of a better name, we know what we mean. Us. God. Life. It does matter. And it’s good.
Lorie Martin is a member of the First Church of Christ Congregational UCC of Glastonbury.