My family is probably typical. We only see each other every once in a while, but we have those we’re closest to that we keep in touch with more often. Some in our family rarely come around. There are many things that unite us and bring us together. We don’t always agree either. I’m describing a family, my family. The church.
I spent two days earlier this week with my clergy brothers and sisters in the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church at the annual “Our Life Together” clergy retreat. It’s always an enjoyable time. We have a keynote speaker, powerful worship, and time together. This year we welcomed four preachers in the two day event. It was a good idea. We were inspired by the words of Rev. Alex Hershey, Dr. Frank Beard, Rev. Lisa Schubert-Nowling, and Dr. Derek Weber. I’m thankful for the words shared by my colleagues. We laughed and were inspired and encouraged to offer our best to God in ministry. It’s what we all love; God, the church, the people, and the ministry.
As I said, we’re family. We have a lot in common. It hit me both days of our retreat. On Monday, we were invited to remember and reaffirm our baptisms. We dipped our hands in bowls of water and declared that we are united in the baptismal waters with Christ and one another. Tuesday afternoon worship brought Holy Communion. Again from the one loaf and one cup, we united around the meal of Jesus Christ.
We don’t always agree on everything. The clergy are divided sometimes on worship style, understanding of Scripture, and marriage, but like every messy, yet beautiful family, we keep coming back together. We offer each other grace. We offer each other the baptismal waters and the bread. We pass the peace. We keep offering grace or at least we should.
We don’t always agree, but we dipped our hands in the waters, we ate from the one meal, and now I pray that we will treat one another as the brothers and sisters we are. We are one in Christ Jesus. Families are a messy, yet beautiful gathering of people. Whatever may come in the future with General Conference or other challenges, I pray we will continue to be the messy, yet beautiful family of God.