And So We Begin
After a long, but grace-filled call process, suddenly here we are at the beginning of a new season of shared ministry. I am excited to be St Stephen’s pastor, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you as, together, we do God’s work in our part of Wilmington.
This past Friday evening, my husband Kevin, our youngest daughter Jane, and I jumped right in, taking part in the First Friday Walk for Peace and Justice sponsored by two of our neighboring congregations. This month’s walk kicked off the fourth year of this ministry of presence in downtown Wilmington. Almost 20 of us walked (or rolled on electric scooters) from the Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew on Shipley Street to Rodney Square. We represented at least three congregations, ranging in age from our young 20s to our young 80s, spanning a wide variety of life experiences. Despite our differences, we were still united in common purpose.
Our opening devotion included Dr. Barbara Holmes’s observation that ours is a culture “addicted to division.” The monthly Peace Walk offers both a perspective and a practice to overcome that cultural addiction. As a first-time walker, I was struck by the number of passersby who acknowledged us and offered words of affirmation and gratitude. When we reached Rodney Square, a walker who had traveled the whole route slowly, using a cane, thanked the people who hung back with her so she wouldn’t walk alone. She talked about the gift of “flying in formation” as stronger members of a flock watch over and support more vulnerable members in a way that helps the whole group thrive. We all made it to Rodney Square and this women’s gracious words showed how the simple practice of a silent walk, in the name of peace and justice, begins to create bonds of mutual care in a group of otherwise unrelated people.
I think this is exactly the kind of community we’re trying to become as we follow Jesus. The simplest gestures of respect and kindness become the foundation of strong community where everyone flourishes. Of course, Peace and Justice require more than a pleasant stroll on a Friday evening. But the witness of this monthly walk attracts positive attention. And, as readers of the gospel, we know that God works through the smallest, most humble of beginnings. If you’ve never tried a First Friday Walk for Peace and Justice, maybe you will join us in August. You’ll be glad you did.
May God bless our congregation as we lean into the work entrusted to us: to love, to invite, to serve.