The Farewell Tour ends here: I invite us to see change not as threatening, but as life giving. It's time we let God reinvent who and what we are.
By Rev. Canon Keith Nethery
Over the last many months I have oft stopped to think about what I would write in my final column.
It has been a labour of love that has lifted my spirits time and again as I share laughs, tears, history and today – a future without me in print!
I've doodled a few bits and pieces for this column and every time I've hit delete or crumpled the paper or just plain didn't remember what I was thinking, on purpose!
The truth is probably that writing this column means a whole heap more to me than it does to you. I've had some lovely emails and letters over the years and had a chance to chat with some of you. But the reality is that the circulation isn't that broad and most people have better things to do that listen to me wax somewhat eloquently on a variety of matters that may or may not be stirring to your soul.
My spirit has been raised by everything that I have written, so I guess it should be me saying thank you to you for putting up with my doodlings that helped me turn yet another question into five more questions each month.
So, what would I say to you about where it goes from here?
Tell your story! Tell it well! Listen to the story of others! Make sure you have heard it correctly.
That, I think is the key to the future of this thing called thing called the Anglican Church.
Except, I've put the order backwards. If we are to continue or better yet, get back to thriving; we will first need to listen carefully to the stories of those who are not in our pews, not reading our Huron Church News and for the most part don't really care about us. Harsh words, but I believe important words for us to hear.
I believe that God continues to reveal more and more of God's self to us every day. Change comes as we learn from others around us about this wonderful thing we call community. God's community is meant to be part of the growth of humanity.
Our world today doesn't much like the lecture thing. People want to be interactive, able to participate at every level and share in learning new meanings on a daily basis. We do that one story at a time. Listen first, ensure that you have heard properly and wait for the right time to tell your story. That is when the other feels that they have been heard, understood and are ready to see how paths might intersect and we might walk together for a while.
I have literally been invited into thousands of lives, thousands of homes and heard tens of thousand stories in my time as an Anglican priest. It is a privilege I can not even begin to explain. But I can say for sure it is far more often about questions than it is about answers.
This Anglican thing that we love so much is elusive to explain or understand. There is something in our communities that welds us together, oft to the point of forgetting to look outward, to the needs, desires and wants of the others that God has put in our path.
As I think about the conversations I have had over nearly 30 years, I can tell you that each has its own flavour, direction, pace and outcome. The outcomes are always better when the conversation is interactive and based on questions, dreams, possibilities and undergirded by a strong sense of love of the other.
Don't ever give up! Don't ever say that God has closed the door on this thing called Anglicanism!
Our strength is our ability to hear and include so many stories in the growing collection of the history of our church family. We have been gifted with the niche of being the community that can hold so many different ways, questions, personalities, understandings, stories …
It is a difficult way at times. The temptation is to claim our story as the best one. That leads to death, a death that has been staring us in the face for the 30 years I have been tucking pieces of white plastic into my collar on a weekly basis.
I think we need to jettison much that leads us down the path we are on. I invite us to see change, not as threatening, but as life giving. It's time we let God reinvent who and what we are.
That doesn't happen when we tell people we have all the answers. It happens when we invite people to journey with us in the questions, listen to the stories and decide that God is infinitely more than we can imagine – and mean it!
It has been an honour to journey with you. May our paths cross again and may we dedicate ourselves to listening to stories that give rise to questions that may not have answers, at least not right now!! Blessings!