April 2019 Streams of Thought
There are critical points in the life of every organization; nations,
schools, towns, and states. Every earthly thing has a life span, including churches. A church may cease to exist but the CHURCH will never die because it’s head is the resurrected, deathless Son of God Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:22).
The gap between our Living Water UMC church income and expense has been widening since last fall and will reach a critical point of no return very soon. We will have a congregational meeting in April to vote on keeping Living Water open per guidelines in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
At our congregational meeting in March our District Superintendent shared the timely insight that it is better to “die with dignity.” That reminded me of something Methodist founder John Wesley said. Methodists, he observed, “die well.”
Wesley’s last words are said to have been “The best of all, God is
with us.” I’ve read some Methodist scholars whose response to
that is basically “Huh? What?” I don’t think Wesley was that
cryptic. To me it makes perfect sense.
Death ushers a Christian into the immediate presence of the God. It fulfills the promise of eternal life which begins with earthly faith in Christ. God is with us no matter what; that’s what is “best of all.” We live and die in God’s grace and presence (Romans 14:7-8).
As we prepare for whatever lies ahead I pray we will continue to worship, gather, minister, encourage each other, and most of all love those around us in the name of Christ.
Grace and Peace,
March 2019 Streams of Thought
The United Methodist Church’s Special General Conference 2019 (GC2019) is history. The "Traditional Plan" was passed by the delegates from all over the world, not just the U.S. This plan maintains the traditional Biblical position on marriage and human sexuality.
The opposing views of human sexuality that roiled our denomination for decades were irreconcilable, but this fact has been ignored by progressive bishops, clergy, and laity.
Scripture is consistent on marriage being between a man and a woman. Jesus confirmed the original vision set forth in Genesis 1:27 and 2:23-25 when he was arguing with the Pharisees over divorce in Mark 10:5-9.
It’s sometimes argued Jesus never mentioned same-sex relationships so He must not have condemned them; only uptight types like the Apostle Paul did that. Jesus likely didn’t mention same-sex relationships because Judaism’s moral code assumed (based on Scripture) they went against God’s intention for human sexual expression.
St. Paul addressed them because they were relatively common in Greco-Roman culture. Past General Conferences (which alone speak officially for global Methodism) have consistently upheld the Church’s position on the immorality of same-sex relationships.
One fact to consider is not only did the GC2019 reject what is now called the One Church Plan but the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) passed similar plans in the last few years. The result? A mass exit of members, clergy, and congregations who were simply tired of the defiance of what is called traditional Christian moral teaching.
Pray for our future, mourn the brokenness this has produced, show Christ’s love to all, and rejoice knowing God is still in charge and will lead us in His ways. May His face shine upon you all and bring you His peace.
Grace and Peace,
February 2019 Streams of Thought
In a few weeks a special session of the UMC General Conference
will convene in St. Louis with hundreds of delegates from all
over the globe. They'll do their best to address the impasse
we've reached concerning ministry to LGBTQ persons.
All LGBTQ persons are of sacred worth, created in God's image, but like all of us are scarred by the awful reality of sin. Human sexuality is, like so much
else in life, broken and marred by sin. Scripture very clearly delineates what is out of bounds and in bounds when it comes to sexual behavior. However, there are
some within the Church that do not believe this.
I don't like describing the impasse as which "side" we're on, but the truth is there are two major worldviews and theological persuasions at work. Time and
space don’t permit a thorough exam of each, but as we've discussed in open dialogue this previous fall, wherever we stand on this issue one big
concern is "What’s the future of the UMC?"
The short answer is "I don't know;" what I do know is whatever happens February 23 -26, the changes that might take place will happen over time. But Jesus Christ will still be King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Head of the Church (Ephesians 5).
I do want to express a note of caution: depending on how things land or play out, clergy and congregations might be compelled, to one degree or another, to pick a "side." Again, I don't like using that terminology but, regardless of how it's phrased, I strongly suspect that will be a real possibility.
Prayerfully consider GC 2019, whatever the results are. In March I would like us to have another dialogue after the service. By that point there will be some idea of the effects of whatever happens in February. But above all, pray, pray, pray; for the UMC, our Conference, and our churches.
Grace and Peace,