formation everywhere

An article for the weekly rector’s notes of October 15

“We are the clay and you are the potter.” This imagery of being formed by God resonates deeply with me because of the intense care and attention that is alluded to within the statement, but also speaks to a saying I often hear from artists who work in clay that “the clay speaks to me and the resulting piece is as much a reflection of what the clay gave me as it was my own imposition of design.”

We are constantly and continually formed by God through our experience of Church.

Formation is a church word we use most often to refer to educational ministries, but formation is more than education, at least in the traditional sense of the word. Formation is literally how we are formed in the experience of our faith. Formation is very much about the intellectual education we receive, from forums to intergenerational activities to children’s ministries, these are the most commonly associated activities when we think about formation. But formation is so much bigger than just the intellectual education offerings we have.

We are formed in our liturgy and worship experience. We are formed at coffee hour as we explore our community, engaging in conversation, in finding our place in this place. We are formed when we offer prayers for one another. We are formed when we talk about our faith with others, both inside these walls and, perhaps more impactfully, outside of these walls.

Our task then is to seek our formation in all facets of the church experience. Our responsibility is to encourage and create space for others to also be formed in all facets of our shared church experience. Whether this means pushing yourself slightly beyond your comfort zone to serve as an acolyte, learning the intricacies of our liturgy and deepening your faith as a result, or pushing yourself to be a welcoming ambassador for the person sitting next to you who has never been in church before and helping them follow the flow of the service, inviting them to join our community at coffee hour, making a connection to them, we can experience formation in all parts of our experience of church.

As a worshiping body of believers we have a responsibility to continually seek our formation. We have a responsibility to engage in the more traditional aspects of formation when we can, as our presence only helps to deepen and expand those ministries. We also have a responsibility to understand that we are constantly being formed by our interactions with the holy, in worship, in community, in conversation, in exploring this life together. I encourage you to seek out formation, to see formation all around you, and to engage where you can in order to be formed more deeply and more fully in your relationship with and understanding of God.

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