There are some joys I didn't know to anticipate when I went into the ministry. I experienced some today at our lectionary group. We have been spending our hour together talking more about the problems of poverty and homelessness on the island than about the scriptures of the week. And the joy I found in noticing that shift in our conversation was quiet and unexpected; I don't know whether my presence has had anything at all to do with it, except, perhaps, to change the balance of orthodoxy. Perhaps the more social-action-oriented pastors see me as a fellow advocate for social action. Last year, it was pretty much all Bible all the time. This year it's different.
At our lunch yesterday, we had one brave soul show up, the longtime pastor of the Assembly of God church, though the word was that others would have been there, including the pastor who was shy of me last year, except that travel or other obligations intruded. We decided we would get together every few months to discuss common cause, so perhaps we will be able to build bridges. And another unexpected quiet joy came as we all held hands for our grace before the meal and I felt included, accepted, a member of the collegial group serving South Whidbey Island.
I don't feel a need to argue about theology; I don't feel uncomfortable even when "in Jesus' name" we prayed; I offer my particular wisdom when it feels appropriate and let them discuss their insights without comment, and I find joy when they say something pretty orthodox and I can see what they mean. Bricks and steel like this build the bridges I'm hoping for.