My office shelves are lined with a colorful assortment of pictures and memories I have amassed over twenty-five years of ministry. There are pictures of mentors and friends who have profoundly shaped my life. A Japanese silk fan and a colorful teacup from the Dominican Republic remind me of connections with my international sisters in Christ. In the middle, sits a brass hinge in a small black frame. People often ask me to tell the stories behind these mementos. Without fail, everyone asks me about the hinge.
I am a Hinge
I am a hinge. A utilitarian piece of hardware. Its job is to connect two pieces together so that they are made useful. When a hinge does its job, you rarely notice it unless it squeaks. My calling as a hinge gets me up every day. I connect people to people and churches to churches. My goal is to strengthen them both by connecting them to sound resources.
I long to hinge in such a way that people don’t see me but see the Christ and the beautiful unity that occurs when things join for His glory. I am a fifty-one-year-old hinge. I have great delight when I get to stand in the gap and help women connect across differences: different generations, cultures, and contexts. But I have no greater joy than when I see them vitally connected to Christ and His Church.
Have you ever wondered what difference it would make if we believed we were better when hinged together to Christ and one another? We live in a world of radical individualism. We long for vital connections and yet we are more isolated than ever before. We look for common bonds: mutual interests or preferences. These things can be fodder for casual chit chat, but they never leave us feeling like we actually belong.
The book of Ephesians is filled with powerful togetherness. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:4-5). “With” means that we are not only together with Christ but we are so literally “mixed together” with Him that no one can separate us from Him or Him from us. This small but critical preposition unpacks the power of being hinged. This is a bond that brings an eternal and blessed belongingness.
Paul continues to unpack what it looks like for us to be hinged together: “…being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). And, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16). As we are hinged to Christ, He hinges us to one another. Union with Christ yields a closer than close union with each other. We are better together. In love, He fits us together so we grow up into maturity. We are to be so “mixed together” that nobody can tell the difference one from the other. In the church, there should not be stones that sit to the side, or gaps where a stone has removed itself from the whole. When we are vitally connected to Christ and His Church, simply put, we can’t get apart from each other. And all of our togetherness grows out of the first together: being made alive together with Christ.
In 2020, PCA Women’s Ministries will seek to be hinged across our denomination. The Hinged Conferences will highlight older and younger women teaching, worshiping and serving together. We will be coming to Charlotte, NC; San Antonio, TX; Chicago, IL; Birmingham, AL; Newark, DE; and San Diego, CA. These conferences will be built upon the truths found in the book of Ephesians. Every woman (ages 13-103) who attends a Hinged Conference will go home with a complementary Ephesians Hinged Bible Study.
The weekend will have two parts. The Friday evening pre-conference event will be called “Come to the Table: An Inter-generational Family dinner for women who love and serve the church.” Women will gather around the table for food, fellowship, and meaningful guided conversations about Christ and His Church. Saturday will be a one-day Hinged Conference led by inter-generational teaching and worship teams on key truths from the book of Ephesians. We invite you to join us with the women in your life. Save the dates; registration opens September 1, 2019.
We are also hoping to give away a free Women’s Ministry Training to each of our eight geographic regions. Our hope is these events will also strengthen churches and increase blessed belongingness. We are accepting submissions from churches and presbyteries interested in winning a free training until June 30th.
You can learn more about what to expect from the Hinged Conferences and Trainings here: https://pcacdm.org/hinged-conferences/.
About the Author:
Karen serves as the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, where she seeks to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband Chris, Senior Pastor at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, IL. Chris and Karen have two children, Anna Grace (23) and Haddon (20) that round out “Team Hodge.” It is from the perspective of a wife, mother, leader, and fellow pilgrim that she hopes to offer insight from God’s Word to women concerning how she and they can most effectively learn to enjoy and extend God’s Glory.