Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creative Energy Storage

In chemistry there is a concept called “chemical potential energy.” When two atoms bond to form a molecule, energy gets stored in the bond between them.  Most of the time, the energy in that bond doesn't do anything, it just sits there.   But if something, say a fire, breaks that bond, the energy that was stored in it gets released.  This is the concept behind everything from burning gas to power a car, to eating food to give us the energy to get through the day.  The potential energy stored inside the chemical bonds that make fuel and food gets released when burned or digested.

At Parables we create a different type of bond: the connection between people through stories.  This narrative connection happens naturally from spending a month sitting with a story from scripture on one side and the stories of our lives on the other. 
Just like chemical connections, these narrative connections can become incredible reservoirs of energy. Most of the month the energy just sits there, accumulating as the connections grow.  That’s why, instead of a normal offering plate, Parables has a “Creative Energy Storage” Jar.  As people feel the energy around the story that we are exploring for the month build, they can put money in the Creative Energy Storage.  At the end of each month, people suggest ways that we as a community might light a fire to release the energy and the money into the world.
Our first month was spent exploring the Book of Ruth, a story about marginalized women who have to find a way to survive when society doesn't give them economic options. As we pondered the story, the question naturally arose, who are these women today? At the end of the month we decided to release the financial energy that we had stored in the form of a donation to Hour Children, an organization dedicated to helping incarcerated mothers get back on their feet once they are released.

Last month, we explored the story of Eve, Adam, and the Garden of Eden.  At the end of the month, people put forth suggestions about how to release the energy that we had accumulated. We took a poll to see what sparked for people.  What opened up the energy of the narrative bonds was to give a scholarship to a parent who was also going to school.  In the story of the Forbidden Fruit we saw the hardship that can come from pursing knowledge, and the strain that it can put on families. And yet, we identified with Eve’s desire to expend her mind. So it seemed only fitting to support someone who was willing to add to the struggles of family life for the sake of learning.   
But energy doesn't just come in the form of money.  After the story of the Adam and Eve being with God in the garden, several people realized that they felt closest to God while in nature.  So now we are organizing a hiking trip.
As we move into our third month, we look at the stories of why the disciples would radically change their lives to start following Jesus. Who knows what will release the pent-up energy from the connections that are made?  If you have a suggestion, feel free to email me. If you feel a connection, you can now donate online through the Metropolitan New York Synod Website.  Please just select “Parables, Brooklyn” in the “Designate my gift for” drop-down menu.    

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