In the Mud

In the Mud  
What just happened with General Conference and the LGBTQIA vote?   
Hold that question for a moment, please.  
Years ago, when the kids were little and we were broke, we went on vacation to North Carolina. Generous church members offered us their cabin on a mountainside at a price we could afford — FREE!   
The cabin was brand new. Never been lived in, slept in, cooked in, pottied in (THAT story is for another time).   
Did I mention it was on a mountainside?   
There was a long, steep drive to the front yard, completely composed of Carolina clay.   
Then the rain began. And, it continued. Nothing of biblical proportion, but lots of rain. Mixed with lots of clay.   
To get up the hill, you had to get a running start from the street that ‘T’d’ into the driveway.   
To get down the hill, was another story.   
Did I mention the cabin was on a mountainside?   
The car slid down quite easily. Quite easily…into the ditch. Buried up to its axle in Carolina clay mixed with lots of rain water — slippery, orange mud.    We ended up trying to dig the car out — with a spoon. In the cold. And the rain. The spoon was all we had. The emotions that day ranged from angry and frustrated to punchy and hilarious. The results? We were covered in mud. It wasn’t pretty. But, eventually, we dug our way out.   
So, what just happened at General Conference?   
Today, the United Methodist Church covered itself in mud. (Insert other euphemisms here at your will.)   
When the vote of the delegates affirmed a 2,000 year old understanding of human sexuality, ministry, and marriage, and its place within the Church, many LGBTQIA individuals felt demeaned and disenfranchised. People hurt. And were and are angry.  
Others sought, sincerely, to be faithful to the foundational understandings of the Christian faith. Few on either side, I have to believe, intended to be mean or hurtful. But, the result was that most left the arena, covered in mud, and blood, and bruises.   
Some, in this process, got down in the mud. Others slung mud. In what looked far more like a bar fight than a church meeting, mud happened. Sometimes the nastiness was intentional. Sometimes it wasn’t. Either way, mud happened. 
And, while mud washes off fairly easily, it doesn’t go away when you keep wallowing in it.   
Which is almost certainly what will continue to happen.    Please, know this:   
  • No one won. No one came away feeling victorious. No one felt holier. No one felt more hopeful about healing our divisions. There will be much discussin’ to come. Perhaps even some cussin’ to come. Progress and reconciliation, while not certain, will hopefully come — even if it is a spoonful at a time. 
  • Nothing has changed. Jesus Christ is the same. The same way of doing and being church that existed before General Conference will be how we do and live as the Church of Jesus Christ now that General Conference is over. 
  • In the meantime, we, at 1st Church, will continue to do what we did before General Conference: 

We will Offer New Life in Jesus Christ to ALL. 

We will worship our Heavenly Father. And ALL are invited. 

We will study to seek the mind of Christ. And ALL are welcome. 

We will endeavor to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. ALL may join us. 

We will serve. And ALL are included. 

We will love because the love of Christ compels us — we will love EVERYBODY. 

We will bless and not curse. 

We will be prepared to answer with gentleness and respect. 

We will seek grace and truth. 

We will be meek (and that don’t mean weak). 

And, we will pray.   
We will pray that the God of grace and truth, love and holiness, will use us to be ambassadors of reconciliation in this fallen, broken, hurting world…just the same as we have always been called to be and to do.   
In the Name and Cause of Jesus Christ,