By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
Questions… How many of them do you ask in an average day? How many do you answer?
Some are very simple aren’t they, “What time are we meeting?”, with others being far more complicated, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
We are a curious species for to be human is to ask and to seek answers for questions. This is most clearly seen in the area of scientific inquiry with observing, inferring, classifying, predicting, measuring, questioning, interpreting and analyzing of data.
As surely as questions are central to our development as a species, they are most certainly at the centre of our spiritual formation as well, beginning from our earliest days, as noted by the Godly Play Foundation, where the question “I Wonder …” is the central pillar around which spiritual formation for children is supported.
The question (and all that follows a question… usually more questions) was, as we know, also a central part of the work and ministry of Jesus. His day was full of questions from his disciples (Matthew 17:19; Mark 9:28), scribes and Pharisees (Mark 10:20; Luke 17:20; Luke 11:53), the Sadducees (Matthew 22:33), his followers (Mark 10:4), lawyers (Matthew 22:35) and even Pilate (Luke 23:3).
Great treasures lay beneath the surface, of an environment where questions are encouraged. To give hospitality to questions, is to encourage thinking, problem solving, creativity, improved communications, an enriched understanding, a connection to real-world problems, and if the environment in which these questions are being asked is just right, with time, inquirers will see questions as the route to continuing to learn and grow. Important for a Learning Church seeking to share the Gospel and serve our neighbours in an ever-adapting manner.
There can be risks when questions are asked. Questions can make us uncomfortable, as in any group there will be a range of different sensibilities, experiences, and understandings. As well there may well be a sense of loss and natural anxiety that quite predictably accompanies change.
However, as followers of Jesus, we know that transformation and change are part of that to which we are called. We come to understand that change is as an opportunity, a Spirit-led opportunity and that it has been a part of the Christian tradition since its earliest days.
Within the setting of an Education for Ministry (EfM) group, on any given day, there will be a full range of questions. Whether in the reviewing of that week’s readings, the sharing of experiences since the last meeting, or in the discussions around a theological reflection, an EfM gathering is one in which reflective conversations birthed out of any variety of questions, will thrive. It is a core value at EfM that participants feel safe and free to share as they support one another in holding space into which questions can be explored.
Reflective conversations will not always be easy, however over the many years of the EfM program, they have been shown as the path forward in the expanding of our understandings and concepts around being followers of Jesus in these constantly changing times. EfM reminds us that these conversations are just waiting to happen in each of our lives.
If you would like to learn more about all that is available to you at Education for Ministry, please reach out at any time to either Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon, Huron’s EfM Animator at firstname.lastname@example.org as we would be pleased to hear from you.
Dates for upcoming Open House sessions will be announced next month.
Rev. Dr. Canon Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.