A few weeks ago, we held a meeting to consider the future of the United Methodist Church. After years of division and argument over the church’s position on human sexuality, same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy, the General Conference of the denomination created a group to prayerful study and consider options about how churches and annual conferences would relate to each other. You can view the presentation that we viewed together that evening at (http://www.bwcumc.org/resources/commission-on-a-way-forward/).
It was a balanced and peaceable conversation that followed the presentation that evening, free of acrimony and anger. I suppose we all came to see that something we have come to hold as valuable might disappear. The faith and church that we have known might not be there tomorrow, or it might be there but look very different than it does today.
But here’s what I want to be clear for all of us. No matter what happens at the called session of the General Conference, on Feb. 27 — the day after the event — there will still be men, women, and youth in our community who need to have an “on-growing” relationship with Jesus Christ. That is a fact.
There will be family members that will be morning loved ones who have died, persons in the hospital or nursing home that wait and wonder if there is anybody that cares about them. There will be youth that worries that they don’t fit in and parents trying their best to be good parents. No matter what will be decided at General Conference, those who follow Jesus Christ will still be able to point to God’s steadfast love made available to us in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That won’t change.
There will be persons around us who want to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. And there will be those who need a community of love and forgiveness where they can find Jesus Christ and learn how to walk the path of joyful obedience.
Between now and that special session, there is much you and I can do. I suggest the following:
Put yourself into doing. Serve others, volunteer at a shelter, visit a nursing home or folks who are home-bound, call members of your church who don’t attend regularly, call people who are ill and not able to attend worship, offer a ride, read to a child.
Restrict your noise intake. Watch the news, but not four times a day. Show restraint when it comes to what you write (and read) on social media. Read emails pushed to you, but only from positive, respectful persons and only for a few minutes a day.
Seek silence: for prayer, devotional time, searching the Scriptures. Enjoy nature. Take a walk. Breath.
No matter which pathway our denomination takes, we will still be in the business of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. You have an important role to play in that life-changing mission. That is the most important fact.
-Pastor Steve Larsen