This has been quite the week in the Methodist world. Bishops have been elected. Pastors have moved and are becoming more settled in their places of ministry. The church continues to move forward. In the midst of this movement, I pray that we find God’s Spirit guiding us and moving us forward.
I have hope that the United Methodist Church is progressing along in our faithful witness to the Gospel message of love and hope. More often than not, I hear of many congregations around my city and conference doing some amazing things. People are receiving the love and support of a community. Families are housed. The poor are fed. God’s people worship, pray, and grow together. Just like the news, the bad gets the most headlines, but there is still good news in our denomination. There is hope!
While I do hear many great things coming from Methodists all over the place, too often I hear such negative things as well. I hear about the sinking ship, the divisions, the disagreements, the exclusion, the confusion, and the anger coming from many within the church. What about those outside of the church? How do they view the church’s brokenness?
If we lived our lives the way many people viewed or talked about the United Methodist Church, then our lives would be pretty dismal. Sure there are imperfections, challenges, and disagreements within our denomination, but the church is still made up of humans with our own struggles and challenges. While we have personal sins and shortcomings, we’re not called to walk around as the somber, depressed, and hopeless people of Christ; we are to run out of the doors of the church into the world proclaiming the forgiveness, grace, and hope we have experienced.
For some reason though, our message to one another within the church is discouraging, hopeless, and sometimes downright rude, shall I say sinful. Let’s share the same message that we’re called to share with those outside of the church with those inside of the church.
My dream for the church is that I find a denomination that builds people up, not tears them down; a people so in love with Christ and neighbor that we won’t let our divisions break us; a church that’s willing to fling wide open the doors and welcome everyone into the life and work of the church. That’s my hope for the church, what’s yours?
Until then, I will work to bring that dream to fruition. I make a promise not to tear people down even if I strongly disagree with them, which means that I listen, respect, and seek to understand my brother or sister. I will seek to welcome everyone completely into the life of the church, inviting them into the journey with me and the church.
Where do you find hope today? Where do you find God’s Spirit moving? The journey is filled with hope. The Spirit of God is moving, but it’s up to us to slow down, stop the bickering, and open our eyes to what’s already there.