Spiritual Growth Leader - Rosa Washington-Olson
Rosa offered an thoughtful and instructive call to action for the Los Rios District UMW. Following is a reprint of her remarks.
Today, some of you came here having driven over two hours or more and some just a short distance. But no matter how far or how close by, we've all come to be Refreshed, Restored, Revived, and Rejuvenated by the source of life, "That Life Giving Water."
Last quadrennium we were bridges, this quadrennium we are Rivers. Those bridges took us over rivers only to bring us to where God had in mind a Master Plan for us.
I'd like to use the scripture from Psalms 137 that says, "By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered thee O Zion." The Israelites had been captured and were longing to be back home. As Unite Methodist Women, we aren't allowed to sit down ans weep and long for the past. We are now a district of Rivers with many tributaries, reaching new ideas, new churches, new possibilities, with new leadership.
Research has shown that two of the two most prolific uses of Rivers are Power Generation and Irrigation. You can't find two better definitions to define the work of the United Methodist Women.
Allegorically, we water the crops of many lives through health care, education, clean water in other countries, and the list goes on. In other words, we are power generators, irrigators, and power brokers.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 says, "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a Riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long month of Drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit." What a beautiful scripture to describe the work of the new Los Rios District. We are and will continue to be powerful Rivers.
Rev. Kris presented a talk filled with humor and insights. She sent us away with lots to think about. Rev. Kris also shared a powerful prayer that is a 'must read' for everyone.
It is reprinted below with her permission.
In this world, nothing is created,
and nothing is destroyed.
That means that everything we see,
everything we are,
everything we touch,
are things that have become
through the disorganization,
of all that has ever been,
and all that will ever be.
Nothing is lost. Nothing is gained.
The thing we need most for survival is water.
But this water is not new.
This is the water that the Spirit hovered over in the beginning.
This is the water that flowed through the garden where God meandered with her beloveds.
This is the water that parted so slaves could walk free.
This is the water that flowed past a late night wrestling match, when a man who had been running from himself was finally able to claim his true name and learn another,
and a people who had been torn from themselves cried to their God.
In fact, this is the water that wept from their eyes.
This is the water that poured from a rock in the desert as God’s provision,
This is the water that the flocks were led by as God’s peace.
This is the water that broke in a woman’s body in Bethlehem,
The water that ushered in God’s very presence with us.
Water is a beautiful image.
But it can be terrifying, too.
Desert people knew this.
They had a love/hate relationship with water,
With its scarcity, with its power.
Storms could threaten lives,
they could terrify.
In particularly fierce moments,
they called God the Storm-Rider.
People here in the Central Valley also know how powerful and destructive water can be.
We use this water as a symbol in our churches of the love of God:
Powerful, ever-present, and absolutely prerequisite for life.
This is the water we bless when we say we know the power of Christ,
And when we claim our own ability and agency to stand against evil, injustice, and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves.
Because in our baptism, in the ever presence of the water, of God’s love,
Which we cannot earn or create or destroy,
There is also a call.
This is the water on the raging sea, when Jesus called to us,
When Jesus called us to step out of the safety of our boats
And join him even in the heart of the storm.
Many of us have come from stormy places, calm places, rocky places, shallow places... and many of us are heading right back into the hurricane.
Maybe this gathering has been like the eye for us – a moment of peace and calm.
Maybe the storm is still fuming in our minds and hearts.
The last action of our UMW program is to bless the water, to bless one another,
As we head back into our respective rivers.
Some of us will head to church meetings, where the water rolls sluggishly by, mimicking the patient seasons of the church.
Some of us will head to our homes, our churches, our workplaces, where tears of joy and pain and loss are part of the rhythm of life, but can rock our foundations.
Some of us will head to calm waters, but we know the rapids are still coming. We’ll see some of them on the horizon, and others may surprise us.
Some of us will watch the water lap against the rafts, against the shores, and will feel the joy rumbling up like a deep river chuckle.
Whatever water you’re stepping out into, may you hear the call of the one who saves,
The one who heals,
The one who cares,
The one who calls out,
The one who cannot be separated from us
by anything we’ve done or anything anyone else has done to us.
May this water bless you to step out,
And sink, and swim,
And rise again.
Grace and peace,