The Kaleidoscope of Faith
Jamie Miller took the Learning on Purpose course online in 2021. As an assignment for that course Jamie reflected on different aspects of her faith and the symbols that move and ground her. Rather than simply write about how these various symbols relate to each other and to her ongoing journey, she built a kaleidoscope. Jamie knew that to accurately convey the dynamic interrelations of her faith, it needed movement and it needed light.
Jamie started by drawing colourful symbols on to #6 recycled plastic (which is, Jamie notes, very difficult to find!). Symbols included the cross, the fish, the water drop (baptism, water of life, tears of grief), the star, the musical note, wine, bread, a rainbow, a heart, a tree, the peace symbol, an infinity symbol, etc.
Once she had all her symbols and had reflected on their meaning, she baked them. Under the heat, the symbols shrunk to tiny pieces – still recognizable, but small.
She fastened reflective tiles inside a cardboard tube. Jamie noted that tiles were not a perfect surface, but that we can all be of use spreading the light of Creator, even if we feel a little broken. (“Pretty sure I can make a metaphor out of anything…” she notes.)
The tiny symbol pieces were placed between two clear plastic lids on the open end of the tube, and she punched a hole in the other end of the tube to look through. “The irony of using a nail to punch a hole in the end of this tube so I can see my faith story is not lost on me,” she says.
She covered the outside of the tube with recycled or found items – torn, a bit rough around the edges. It leaves the impression of being slightly unfinished, like the ongoing process of learning, or what Jamie calls “Jesus work”.
“The history of Diaconal Ministry hasn’t been without its struggles,” Jamie says. “From sermons demeaning the work of Deacons, to the United Church of Canada disjoining Deaconesses if they chose to marry, or waiting until the 1980s to recognize Diaconal Ministry as a type of ordered ministry that was open to all people, to the restrictions placed on Diaconal Ministers b some Regional Councils, the struggles for this stream of ministry seem to be long-seeded and ongoing.”
Jamie reflects on the diaconal call to ministries of education, service and pastoral care. “‘Ministry of education’ makes me think of Christian Education: youth ministry, Sunday school development, book and bible studies,” Jamie says. However, she also recalls the words of Kay Heuer: “Education is a process of raising up questions, of seeking meaning, of pushing for change… Education, then, naturally leads into the ministry of advocacy.”
As Jamie was trying to decide which category advocacy falls in, Pastoral Care or Service or Education, it became clear that the three are tightly bound and the structure of Diaconal Ministry cannot happen without all three.
CCS students use their creativity to thoughtfully reflect on the world and on faith.
This year Jamie begins/continues her learning journey as a part of the CCS Diaconal Ministries program. Earlier this month, students gathered online to kick off the school year. Some students have been journeying together for years and some are new to the learning community. As part of an introduction activity, students sent in a picture of themselves. As they interact and reflect and learn together, each bringing the gift of their unique perspective, they form their own kaleidoscope of diaconal learning.