Thank you for your prayers last weekend for the Tri-Conference Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Conferences of the United Church of Christ. The resolution was passed overwhelmingly by all three conferences to pursue forming a new Southern New England Conference this year. We affirmed that we can have unity without uniformity, and this call to greater covenant can help us have a more powerful voice throughout New England. Delegates will vote on the specifics in June 2018 at a meeting to be held in Springfield, MA. (If you’d like to read more, please see this article on the UCC website!) http://www.ucc.org/news_in_historic_vote_three_ucc_conferences_move_toward_union_06192017
We heard some wonderful theological reflections throughout the meeting. Though one that has stayed with me was from a seminary classmate and friend (Rev. Kurt Walker) reflecting on Ecclesiastes 4:12—“a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Kurt shared that he spent summers on the Cape with his grandparents as a child and that his grandfather taught him how to sail. On the boat he learned how to make sturdy rope knots to secure various items, including the boat itself when they would dock it at the end of the day. Once you mastered the skills, it felt like your knot would last forever! All it took was a few cords and weaving them together in such a way that all were strengthened in the process.
Sometimes we have a habit of going it alone in our lives, of not asking for help, of wanting to be independent or not wanting to be a “burden.” Though we’re reminded in Ecclesiastes that a threefold cord is not quickly broken. We need each other! When I officiated my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding, we used this passage from Ecclesiastes and had a symbolic handfasting where I took three cords and wrapped them around their hands. I prayed over Maureen and Scott by saying, “The ties of this handfasting are not formed by these cords alone or even the knots connecting them. They are formed instead by your vows, your souls, and your two hearts. As your hands are bound together by these knots I’ve tied, so too shall your lives be bound as one.”
Here’s the thing—when we are woven together, we come out stronger. This applies to Conferences coming together. And Kurt’s example of sailing with his grandfather and those nautical knots. And the handfasting ceremony in a wedding and the partnerships of our lives. We even have a history of being woven together at CFC as we are a Federated Church of both the UCC and ABC! When we team up and come together in Christian community, we’re stronger for it. Let’s remember these wise, timeless words: “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
(This Week’s Thoughts 6.23.17)