Our 2017 Christian Spirituality Conference will feature Rev. Jim Wellman, who will help us explore “The Ability to Mourn: Becoming a New Creation.” The Conference will be on Saturday, November 4th from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A box lunch will be provided. Tickets are $50, which you may purchase after church in the narthex or online at abilitytomourn.brownpapertickets.com.
“The ability to mourn” is a phrase of Sigmund Freud’s. What he meant is that individuals, who are well-adjusted to reality, understand and are aware of the need to mourn. Jesus said, pre-dating Freud by some 1900 years, “Blessed are those who mourn.” In many ways, it is a conundrum for most of us. Being encouraged to mourn, for Americans, is a little like being encouraged to go to the dentist, people feel it’s necessary but generally don’t want do it!
Jim is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a University of Washington professor. He has served RBPC in many capacities in the past, both as a visiting preacher and our youth minister. He is Professor and Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies. His areas of expertise are in American religious culture, history and politics. Jim was recently named to a five-year Term Professorship in Global Christianity. His most recent book, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity (Abingdon Press, 2012), explores one of the most well-known and controversial evangelical ministers in America.
During this conference we will explore what it is to mourn. Some of us are mourning because we’ve lost someone we love, or we’ve lost something in ourselves that we cherished. During our time together, Jim will describe his own mourning and the way in which he’s entered into a whole new life. It is much more exhilarating that he could have imagined. Because of the work required in mourning, the healing and awareness on the other side of that suffering can make us new again. That has been true for Jim and he believes it will be true for others as well.
Mourning really is a bridge, as the poet Rilke said, to the golden room. That room is the space where all things are again possible. To mourn is to begin to look at where we have been, to see where we made our home, and to understand the ways in which we need to leave, to head off for a new land, to find a new way of being in the world. It is not easy, but it is exhilarating.
So, come and explore a tough subject and begin the process of being released into a new reality. As Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Paul promises that we can and will become “new creations.” We will explore these issues in a way that gives comfort and safety for all, through individual work, small groups and discussion. We will only share what we can. In the end, this all good news. The promise is that we can be renewed in ourselves, for ourselves and for others.