This Sunday, the third of Advent, we light the candle of love. And I plan to talk about how love lives, moves and has its being among us as a community of faith.
But let me lead up to that a bit. As a leader, when I share my skills, authority, and resources with others, in no way does it diminish my effectiveness. It enhances it. In turn, the value to our shared life as Christian community grows exponentially. This lifts our integrity and authenticity as a people. It is the Congregational way. You hear me say sometimes, we’re more horizontal in our workings than vertical.
In his book, Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose offers an engaging history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. As plans for the expedition took shape, the military, operating by a strict chain of command policy, made Lewis Captain and Clark Lieutenant. Lewis, however, remained adamant about equally sharing his authority with Clark. He insisted they would live and explore as co-commanders. They made collaborative decisions all along the arduous journey. This sharing of authority and responsibility greatly contributed to the success of their expedition.
In our church, sharing gifts, responsibilities, burdens, authority, and credit with others doesn’t weaken us. It fortifies and builds the body of Christ on Brookside Road. As leadership is shared here through mentoring and empowering others, the impact of our gifts and resources redoubles; the Spirit of God multiplies itself.
When I arrived here three years ago, I was asked if I was interested in working with First Congregational’s Care Network, fanning throughout the church with spiritual support, personal encouragement, patient listening, and the healing that comes by knowing that we are not alone. I would’ve been crazy to say no to that.
Since then we altered the name to Care Circle, retaining some lay care givers and fortified by the practices we had learned back in the Care Network days. I’ve worked with them on a regular, monthly basis for almost three years now. We meet to assess how all of you are doing, who experiences need or struggle, who might welcome a visit, some company and knowing they’re not alone in difficulty.
Always greatly respecting confidentiality, we talk about members and friends with their backs to the wall. We talk about those of you in abiding challenges and who face changes in your life status. We drop names over months and add new ones. The process perpetually renews itself. Frankly, when we get an associate pastor, we’ll welcome him or her to pastoral caring. But yes, we’ll retain our Care Circle.
Our Care Circle so quietly goes about their work of love that you might not know they’re out there. So this Sunday we will do something about that. Right after my sermon, we will briefly rededicate the Care Circle, individually and as a group. That gladdens me because you might not know all of these loving efforts are offered on your behalf to maintain FCC, Darien as a caring Christian community.