Written by Jill on the occasion of her election to serve as a Deacon beginning in August 2011
I have been coming to Highland with my husband Ryan since we moved to Louisville four years ago. I learned a new phrase when I came to Highland—“God moment.” The concept itself was not new to me, but I started to think about it in a different way and wonder if I had ever had such an experience. It actually wasn’t until I began to think about what I would say at this moment that I began to realize that my faith journey has been marked with these “God moments” all along the way.
Like many other stories I have heard shared in this room, mine begins with weekly or biweekly church attendance with my parents. I am so blessed to say that they both in their own ways are beautiful examples of Christ intertwining our lives with love, humility, patience, and generosity. These were so interwoven into my daily life I honestly cannot remember a time when I first learned the stories of Jesus. This was and continues to be a true blessing for me—an ongoing God moment.
While church was a near mandatory part of our week, another gift that my parents gave me was the encouragement to discover my own faith. I can look back and realize that many of my big faith questions were given attention, but also turned back in my direction for me to wrestle with on my own. And wrestle I did. As I approached college-age, I began to feel like there was a large piece of my faith that was not making sense to me. I heard a lot about salvation, sharing my faith, how much God loves us, and our call to worship God. This was all well and good, but I still felt such a disconnect between that and all of the pain I saw in the world. What were we as Christians to do about that? Wasn’t God more alive than just some words written in the Bible?
I certainly did not think that I would begin to discover the answers to these questions when I headed to college in the Bible belt of Kentucky. When I moved to Murray, I wasn’t even sure that I would find a church to continue the tradition of weekly attendance my parents had instilled in me. With their encouragement, I agreed to visit some churches. I visited churches until I found the one (and I believe the only) where women had a meaningful and equal presence in leadership. It was a small Methodist church where I had God moment number two with the pastor’s presentation of God’s love and the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. I know it sounds crazy, but his simple offering of this theological approach that our faith is shaped by not just the Bible and tradition, but also our experiences and reasoning abilities, gave me the permission to continue asking questions. It gave me the permission to solidly say that what we DO is equally if not more important that what we believe and that the words of Jesus are calling us to love—a huge and world changing love. That this all encompassing love is, for me, more important than any of the discussions about what did or did not happen 2000 years ago. And finally, to say that maybe Jesus himself would say the same thing.
Today I still have questions and doubts and I am so thankful that God has led me to another place where these are accepted and welcomed. Here I have found a place of love and community like nothing else I have known. I will carry all of these—the questions, the doubts, the love, and the power of community as I begin this next page in my faith story as a deacon and I am blessed that each of you will be there along the way.