As part of Day1's Young Leaders of the Church Series, Christina Repoley offers this glimpse into the church at its best:
For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for how to engage fully and joyfully in this broken world. I believe the church is ultimately called to help people know themselves and know God, and through this encounter with the Divine, to engage with the world in love and compassion. My story is that I've always been committed to working for peace and justice, but I don't know if I ever thought about it as ministry until I began to work with ministers and other people of faith who were committed with their whole lives in a way that I had never seen before, in a way that inspired me. Those were the people I wanted to be like, and they became my models for what church could be. So for me, being part of a community of faith meant the possibility of a life committed to peace and justice and grounded in a faithful community. And that difference was huge for me.
My choice to go to seminary and become more deeply involved in ministry was directly related to this desire. I wanted a life lived in faithful community working for peace and justice that connected me deeply to others and to our sacred story through time. I wanted to be part of a community that helped me discern my truest calling, to listen for what Howard Thurman calls the sound of the genuine in myself, and to find that which makes me come alive. The "coming alive" that Thurman describes is not simply "doing what makes you happy" or "what feels good." Rather, it's a deeper sense of listening--to what Quakers would call the Inner Teacher or the Inner Light--and then learning how to respond faithfully to what you hear. Knowing and loving ourselves and others deeply and fully means not hiding our brokenness and our imperfections out of fear or shame. It is a love patterned on the love of God for us, loving despite, because of, and through the brokenness. Engaging in love, we hear and respond to the sound of the genuine in us, which then leads us into closer relationship with God and with the world. When we do this, I believe we will find that we have more boldness and courage to be able to live into and embody the Way of Jesus, that we are better able to continue to love sacrificially, to love our enemies, to live nonviolently, and to be human beings full of integrity and wholeness, shining the way for others, being salt and light to those around us.
I think that church at its best is a community of faithful people who enables all of us to be more fully alive, more fully awakened to God's purpose for us. The church at its best helps us all to discern not just the question of what should I do with my life, but more deeply and more importantly, who am I? When we engage in transformational work in the world based in a community of faith, there is a longer vision--we know it is not just about what we can accomplish in this moment; we know that we are working with those who have come before us and that God is working in the world too. So the church can help our work to be more sustainable, more joyful and more hopeful. Ultimately, in a community of faith, we come to know the difference between working for something all by ourselves and allowing God, who knows us fully and loves us unconditionally, to work through us.
I'm Christina Repoley.