Pilgrim Congregational Church

From the Pastor's Desk



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Living in an Atmosphere of Christ" by Nena Radtke

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." (John 8:31)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams writes in his book, Being Disciples--Essentials of the Christian Life, that in the ancient world to be a disciple of a teacher, "was to commit yourself to living in the same atmosphere and breathing the same air; there was nothing intermittent about it."  Jesus and his disciples exemplify this relationship.

As a young adult, I spent three wonderful and growthful summers as a camp counselor at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan, NYC.  I was part of, what was then, a pilot program of the cathedral.  This urban camp served as a playful and experiential extension of its academic year program.  In a bold move, the camp's founders sought to look at the church's mission in the world through ways it could serve the needs of the urban blight at its doorstep.  The cathedral intentionally invited neighborhood families in.  It also expanded and reoriented the teaching staff to look beyond the walls of the cathedral school.  Scholarships made it possible for New York's poorest children to participate. 

We learned through making hand imprints in clay that we were each wonderfully unique.  We learned it took cooperation to make homemade ice cream with goose eggs.  And, we learned what it meant to be in community through hours of swimming, sports, storytelling, crafts, tie-dying t-shirts, and singing silly songs together.

The camp fed by need to embody a faith that responded to the needs and dreams of the surrounding communities.  It allowed me to connect the gospel stories to real conditions.  Importantly, I spent daily meditative time walking through the enormous sanctuary.  I was "breathing the air" every day.  It was a classic case of being fed and then feeding.

Today the program has expanded to a full-year supportive program for young people and their families.  Children continue to gather from many faiths, cultures, and economic backgrounds--enhancing their ability to grow together and thrive as unique beings within diverse communities.  

Throughout my adulthood, I've been strongly connected to the Church and its purpose in the world.  I believe creating sacred and growthful spaces requires us to be boldly intentional proactive in extending hospitality.  Discipleship commits us to live in "the same atmosphere as Christ."

O God, source of our being, may we act in your ways as the body of the risen Christ.  Amen