Identity & Communication Event held on 3-20-2004
"Tell 'em Who You Are!"
Bob Cassels of the Association Council offers “The Comma’s Dream”
Once upon a time there was a small, squiggly comma who lived in the great family of punctuation marks. There were so many marks in the family, the comma often felt lost and inconsequential. People seemed just to slide over it, with perhaps a slight pause, and then keep on going.
The comma envied the period. The period was bold and seemed so decisive and final. People stopped and paid attention to the period.
Then one day a delightful woman, who often seemed rather silly, said something very profound that the comma would never forget:
“Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” [Gracie Allen]
The comma felt so proud and important.
Might God actually choose or even – dare the comma imagine this – prefer a comma to the bold and conversation-stopping period?
The comma thought a great deal about this. Then one night – was it in a dream, or was it, could it have been real – the comma found itself in the presence of God.
God spoke lovingly to the comma. God explained that the world God created was filled with unfolding potential. People were still growing and discovering in the world – especially
- about how to get along with and take care of the world and each other, and
- about how to live faithfully with God.
God wanted the comma to become a symbol for this – for creativity in thought and relationship and action and, most of all, in matters of faith. The comma was ideally suited to encourage creativity and growth and to link people, nature, ideas and faith together.
The comma beamed with pride.
Then the comma was assailed with doubts. The comma feared it could not live up to God’s expectations for it.
God assured the comma that there would be others to help. Together they looked down one Tuesday evening and saw the New Jersey Association Council meeting. People representing many different churches and aspects of ministry were sharing ideas – seeking ways to empower the vision embodied in the comma.
They encouraged local churches to cluster together to support and stimulate one another and, when they could, to work together to make their ministry stronger.
They planned meetings bringing the people of the various and variegated local churches together to worship, to pray, to learn and to encourage one another. These meetings were a place where the people could also feel part of a larger whole and understand the work of the church beyond the local parish
They worked to make sure that funding was available, thanks to money given by the local churches and the denomination, for the projects and ministries of the church.
With the help of the Central Atlantic Conference, the Council linked itself and its churches to the wider church – receiving and giving support. Indeed, the Area Conference Minister was a vital force in giving support to local churches and ministers and keeping the Council informed and energized about the work of the wider church.
And the Conference Minister himself often made his was up to New Jersey to share and to encourage its people. Some members of the Council also sat on the Conference Board of Directors.
Now the comma became very excited and hopeful. The vision could live and become what God hoped.
Then God told the comma that there was more. There were commissions and committees and individuals that were part of the Council and the Association that were at work all the time in a variety of faithful ministries.
God wanted the comma to be a part of the excitement and the challenge. God wanted the comma to represent all of this.
The comma could hardly wait to do its part.