By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
Several years ago, like many others these days, I participated in a test to learn more about the components of my cultural background.
While I had some ideas, of course, from stories told to me by family over the years, I was curious about just what the test would reveal. The advertisement suggested that I could, “discover the places, history and cultures that shaped who [I am ] today – using just [my] DNA.”
While I do not pretend to understand either the precise science behind these kinds of tests, or to be truthful even the accuracy and validity of such testing, my interest in my family’s history was a driving force. While I had a general understanding of who I was and where I had come from, I wanted to know more about my roots. I wanted to know more about my story, and I suppose more about my particular piece of that story.
As the Old and New Testaments are studied details of their context and peoples are explored in detail as well as the story of the Church and the lives of those who have gone before us.
In many different ways today, local parishes, and indeed, the Church as a whole are being compelled to also revisit and reexamine our story, made particularly important as most of us are grappling with change of all kinds. Leaders in both secular and sacred spheres tell us that in times of great change it is a recommended practice (though perhaps not always a welcomed one) to reflect back on and renew connections to the underlying principles and narratives that have formed us. In our case, as we revisit these connections to founding principles and narratives, we encounter or perhaps re-encounter details of our Christian story that if given space can support and inform us as we adapt to change. Knowing our story has never been more important.
We can read in Participating in God’s Mission by Van Gelder and Zscheile, that as we encounter and listen to Scripture and to the stories and wisdom of the Christian tradition, we are supported in the practices of discipleship and discernment, and our understanding of our story is enriched as we engage in such ancient Christian practices as Sabbath, prayer, service, hospitality and reconciliation. We engage with these practices, not just as church programs but instead as a way of life in relationship with the neighbourhoods in which we find ourselves. Van Gelder and Zscheile go on to say that if we organize church life around engaging Scripture as a living narrative it will provide a whole new orientation for making sense out of our life and the world.
This in turn will go a long way toward deepening identity. As we allow Scripture to respond to the different situations in our lives, the story of what it is to be a follower of Jesus is clarified.
While we have many different occasions in our lives together that encourage and support this engagement with Scripture, Education for Ministry offers one more. Throughout the different years as the Old and New Testaments are studied details of their context and peoples are explored in detail as well as the story of the Church and the lives of those who have gone before us.
If you are interested in learning more about Education for Ministry, please contact Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon at EFM@huron.anglican.ca
Rev. Dr. Canon Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.