What If?

In this time of disaffiliation and turmoil within The United Methodist Church and with the “revival” at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky (and I will admit that I’m skeptical of the event – even though I believe that a movement of the Spirit is possible today as part of God’s prevenient grace wooing us to God, Asbury Seminary (yes, a separate entity from the college, but just across the street) has been ground zero for some of the “stuff” that has led us United Methodists to where we find ourselves today), what are we expecting as Christ followers? That may be a strange question, but I wonder if God isn’t doing a new thing? If so, how should we respond?

Is it possible that in the midst of the pain of disaffiliation that God is opening us up to new possibilities of outreach to a community of people who have been disenfranchised by our actions (or lack thereof) or who have been ignored because (we think that) they just aren’t important?

What if, in the midst of the turmoil, God is calling us to engage with the most vulnerable to help them with some of the situations that they are facing in life? What if God is calling us to create pathways of opportunity to help people to rise out of the situations that have held them back from reaching their potential? What if God is seeking to spur us out of our comfort zones so that we might get down into the muck and the mud with our brothers and sisters who are without hope, partner with them, and lead them to a new reality that overcomes the barriers that they have always faced?

What if we open ourselves to the new things that God is doing in our midst, get out of the way, and serve as conduits of hope and encouragement to those who experienced neither of those things before?

What if…?

These are the questions that I am asking myself. These are the questions that are keeping me up at night. What is God asking of me? What is God expecting of me? What new things can I be part of as we seek to reach out to the community around us? How can we continue to let folks know that God loves them, is there for them, and never abandons them to face the world all alone? If God IS doing a new thing, where do I fit in?

Something to think about as we enter into the Season of Lent.

I’m not dead yet…

It’s hard to believe that the last post on this blog was in 2018. In the meantime, I have posted updates on our church website at www.mcfarlandumc.org and on our church Facebook page. But this blog, with which I have had a love-hate relationship since 2004 has been neglected and ignored for almost 5 years now. That’s hard to believe.

This is the third iteration of the blog that I started in 2004 when I entered candidacy studies to explore the call that God had been pressing upon my life since the early 70’s but I avoided with a passion because it wasn’t what I wanted. That exploration led to being admitted to candidacy for ministry in The United Methodist Church, the church that I was raised in, confirmed in, that disappointed me and caused me to leave it for a season before a marriage helped lead me back into it with a new fervor.

The various iterations of this blog helped me to voice my frustrations with the forces that have sought to destroy not only The United Methodist Church, but all of mainline Protestantism since, I believe, the progressivism that spawned Teddy Roosevelt and the focus on worker’s rights that heralded the turn of the 20th Century. The Methodist Episcopal Church advocated in its statements on Social Witness the ideas that formed the foundation of the Middle Class that came to fruition following World War II. The old money interests whose Ox was gored in all of this have played the long game not only in the church but in the American political establishment as well.

The groups that have advocated for the current splitting of The United Methodist Church have lied and misrepresented to cause division in the church just like their secular parents have lied and misrepresented to lead to the political divisions in our nation. Over the years I’ve called out the lies of the IRD and the misrepresentations of the folks at Good News and other organizations especially when their lies could be demonstrated by just watching the full video record of what they were misrepresenting. To say that I hold total disgust toward them and their tactics is an understatement. But, like the lies, misdirection, and deception that has led us to the place that we find ourselves in American politics, the same on their part has led us to this place in the church. By the way, the way that we interact with LGBTQ+ folks is a SCAPEGOAT people. The issue at the bottom of all of this is POWER and CONTROL.

This being said, I am disturbed at the way that all of this is falling out. I am disgusted with the way that the WCA crowd is crowing over the number of churches that are voting to disaffiliate from the Holston Conference specifically or the UMC in totality. But I am also disgusted by the folks who plan to remain who are basically saying “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” To my mind this whole situation damages our Wesleyan witness as we gather in a circular firing squad to get our way.

In the meantime, the Wesleyan witness of grace is being shoved to the wayside for expediency.

The next couple of years in the UMC will be a challenge. As a leader in the Holston Conference, I’m not going anywhere. To the folks that are leaving the UMC, go with God. To the folks that are staying with the UMC, stay with God. To all, please stop scapegoating and demonizing the other side. It destroys our witness when we demonize each other. If our mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” then we’re tossing that aside to make political points… shame on us.

We’ll make it through this nonsense. But I figure we’ll be bloodied in the process because we are too vain and too ignorant to do otherwise. And it’s a damned shame because God is greater than our divisions. In fact, the divisions would be gone if we put our trust and faith in God instead of our own understanding and prejudice.

All the best.