While I was at the gym this weekend, I watched a segment on CNN about Post Secret. It was actually a newsbit about Post Secret's creator Frank Warren's new book.
I've been thinking about it ever since. Post Secret started a few years ago as a website that publishes anonymous postcards sent to release the burden of caring a secret. As you can see, I borrowed two of these postcards from the Post Secret site. One is slightly tragic. The other is hopeful. Anyhow, it made me think about secrets and how they can burden us. I believe that the news commentator actually used the word burden. I found this to be a really interesting word choice.
In our faith communities, we attempt to give a space for these burdens. I attended a Blue Christmas service last week. I was awed by the two gentleman that willingly got up and lit a candle admitting to the most sensitive of secrets. One had lost of his children in a divorce -- to no fault of his own. The other admitted that his relationship with his teenage children was shattered which may have been complicted by his struggles with cancer. It was amazing to be in a space that actually gave voice to these things -- even if the officiating minister moved far too quickly from the blues to hope. It seems that we need some space to sing the blues and accept that it is ok for our despair to be shared. And in this case, it was not anonymous. It was personal. Very personal. Amazingly, sacramentally personal.
In January, we will be introuducing a new way to give offering in our church inspired by a Giving Card in the UCC stewardship resources. Among the many things in the pew racks, there will soon be a card that anyone can fill in with the gift that they have given that was not monetary -- be it their time or talent. While I think it's important to shift from an emphasis on money so that those without money feel welcomed, I still think that there is something missing from this. There is a possibility that seems to be missing. Instead of asking to give more, we could ask people to release what is weighing them down. We could ask them to not bear their cross but share it and feel the affirming embrace of others. Our fabulous church administrator had the thought that there could be stones available that you could put into the offering plate to release yourself of your secret. And then, she added that maybe you gave it to someone else. Maybe you allowed someone else to symbolically carry your secret in the form of a stone.
I'm not sure that this is something that my congregation could welcome. Like Joseph in this week's Gospel Lesson, this community seems so concerned about rules and doing the right thing. I wonder when we might break out of that mode and welcome our secrets into our experience of our stories. I wonder. I wonder.