Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A final plea for Courage, Faith & Love at General Conference

     As I’m packing to go to St. Louis for General Conference, my mood oscillates. Part of me feels like Caleb and Joshua, acknowledging there are giants in the land but also surprising, sumptuous fruit to be had. Then I drift into a drowsy kind of denial like the three disciples in Gethsemane, trying to stave off the likelihood that Jesus is about to be crucified once more. The fruit seems unlikely. But with God all things are possible.

     All of us fall into one of two categories. Some fear and grieve their sense that the civilization they know and love is crumbling around them. Others fear and grieve that the world they dream of will never come to be. Christians, because of the greatness of God, have good cause to understand both, but to be afraid of neither.

     To cross into the land and seize the fruit, courage, faith and love will be required. Courage embraces risk and cost. Courage isn’t assured of outcomes. Courage is about faith in something larger than me and my secure preferences. Courage isn’t devising the cleverest strategy to win the vote. Courage is being the Body in a world that doesn’t get or love our beloved Lord.

     Faith: do we realize that when we say “A split is inevitable,” we’ve shrunk our vision of God down to an ineffectual, co-opted weakling who can only baptize our limitedness? The true God is magnificently larger than our inevitably blurry perceptions of God. The living God embraces all of us in our dogged yet broken determination to be faithful disciples. None of us understands or teaches infallibly. Mercy is required: we can’t elude God’s, and so we never flag in our zeal to show mercy. 

     We are God’s church. It’s not ours. The mark of the Church isn’t victory, or finagling votes, or even being right. They will know we are Christians by our love. Love does not insist on its own way. Love bears all things. Love doesn’t threaten. If God’s Spirit is in us, we bear fruit. And so as we go to St. Louis, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control evident in how we do our business or think about the others?

     The world is watching. Will we be nothing more than a cross and flame pasted on top of the divisive ideologies people are already burdened by? The world doesn’t need Christ or us Methodists to feed their cultural frustrations and rancor. The world needs an alternative, pulling off the impossible, loving and united in ministry in the thick of divergence on things that really do matter.

     God is watching. God looks around at us and sees thoughtful, prayerful, biblically-focused, holy, broken, sinful, confused, visionary, faithful followers of Christ who connect those dots differently on human sexuality. Does Christ hope we get a divorce? Christ prayed and prays for unity. His heart is larger than all of us. He doesn’t need protection.

     I’ve blogged many times saying human sexuality is not at the core of our faith. Many of my sisters and brothers disagree – despite, as I’ve noticed, that even the most conservative books with titles like Key United Methodist Beliefs don’t mention human sexuality. For most of us, core beliefs are about God, the Trinity, God’s saving acts, grace, and hope, not our fallen, broken responses to the marvel that is God. If human actions are at the core, then I would think that splitting up God’s beloved church would rise to the top of unacceptable actions. Our core is Christ, the cross, his resurrection. He is our unity, nothing else.

     The One Church plan, which I support, is terribly flawed and not the dream in God’s heart. It does invite people on both sides to love, to work together, and even to repent of rejoicing in the wrong. Both sides are sure the other side is wrong. If you think I am wrong or flawed about any or many of the things of God, I do not mind. I don’t wish to be rid of you. We can, with courage, faith and love, live and thrive in church with people who are wrong. There’s nobody else anyhow.  

     I’ve received much mail in recent days, telling me how to vote, threatening dire consequences if the vote goes wrong, imploring me to read Bible verses. Today I received a holy letter, from 31 members of a church, thanking me for serving, expressing love, and pledging to surround us and our church in prayer for peace. Period. Made me smile. I think Jesus smiles. I believe in miracles and am praying for one. The miracle could just be crossing over the river and finding the fruit, living into the fruit, being Jesus’ church full of blessed, flawed, loving, wrong and wronged people. Together.

18 comments:

  1. I pray begging God for mercy and to fill our hearts with love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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      and get your problems solved 100% assured.

      Delete
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      Delete
  2. Please vote to say yes to loving and including all of G-d's children. Please vote against hate and fear.❤

    ReplyDelete
  3. I pray for unity, calm, consistency and clarity of God's greatest commandment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I could not be more grateful that you are serving as a delegate, James. Your perspective is truly Spirit-inspired. Thank you for sharing this and for leading even when it's challenging.

    ReplyDelete
  5. O for a theological comment that could aid policy making. I am not a theologian, but I have translated the entire Tanakh. It speaks so clearly of the character of Yahweh. Psalm 146 - verse 7 doing judgment for the oppressed, giving bread to the hungry, Yahweh, releasing the prisoners, Yahweh, giving sight to the blind, Yahweh, uplifting the disturbed, Yahweh, loving the righteous, Yahweh, sheltering the guest. Orphan and widow he relieves, and the way of the wicked he subverts.

    We are the wicked who need to be changed. It is not them, but us. Opening our hearts and policies to love those who are different, oppressed, disturbed, can never be to do wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dr. Howell, Thank you, thank you! Mable Harrington member of Clemmons UMC

    ReplyDelete
  7. Read the sermon on the mount. Look at the number of sins Jesus renounced. He did so out of love. It is not love to condone a sinful practice but it is love to reach out to the sinner as Jesus did and lead them to His way of morality and righteousness. May God lead us all into His will

    ReplyDelete
  8. My sexuality and the husband who I married and adore is not a sin. I am your brother in Christ. The plank in your eye blinds you to God's grace.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for serving our church my prayers are being lifted for all delegates. While I am not in the same conference I only ask delegates to vote as the Holy Spirit leads you. May we continue to be united around Jesus and may we in all our differences live into the Great Commission.

    ReplyDelete
  10. DON,T IGNORE THIS WHAT AM ABOUT TO WRITE IS 100% REAL LIFE STORY THIS IS HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK HOME TO ME WITH THE HELP OF A REAL AND GENUINE SPELL CASTER DR PETER CALL/WHATSAPP +1(321)754-0649

    Hello Everyone my name is jaxson melanie from USA. I got married ten years ago to a loving husband we had two kids. We had the best home until my husband started behaving awkwardly. it was then i discovered that he was seeing another woman. our marriage moved from bad to worse until he eventually left the home living me with the kids. He took away my home and happiness. i had lived with sorrow, rejection and pain ever since then. on till a friend of my Linda told me about DR. PETER who helped her when she had same problems with her husband. she told me he could solve all marital and health problems. we contacted him and i narrated my story to him. so he promised to help me do a love spell to help me get him back home to me. so after 24hours he was done with the spell and my husband called me on and told me that he is very sorry for all he has done to me. now my husband is back home to me permanently. all thanks to DR. PETER who gave me back my home and happiness. You can also contact him for your marital and health problem contact DR. PETER through his email address:
    MAGNIFICENTSPELLCAST@GMAIL.COM call/whatsapp him via +1(321)754-0649 website http://MAGNIFICENTSPELLCAST.website2.me or blog http://magnificentspellcast11.blogspot.com
    and get your problems solved 100% assured.

    ReplyDelete
  11. POWERFUL LOVE SPELLS AND LOST LOVE SPELLS TO BRING BACK LOST LOVER +2348118829899 USA, UK, FRANCE, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NETHERLANDS, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, IRELAND.

    I've gotten back with my ex boyfriend with the help of Dr.Great the best spell caster online and i highly recommends Dr.Great to anyone in need of help!.. I want to testify of how i got back my boyfriend after he breakup with me, we have been together for 3 years, recently i found out my boyfriend was having an affair with another Girl, when i confronted him, it led to quarrels and he finally broke up with me, i tried all i could to get him back but all to no avail until i saw a post in a relationship forum about a spell caster who helps people get back their lost love through Love spell, at first i doubted it but decided to give it a try, when i contacted this spell caster via his email, and he told me what to do and i did it, Then he did a Love spell for me. 28 hours later, my boyfriend really called me and told me that he miss me so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day, with lots of love and joy, and he apologized for his mistake, and for the pain he caused me. Then from that day, our relationship was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to DR.GREAT. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the Internet that Dr.Great real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com, you can also call him or add him on WhatsApp: +2348118829899 check out his website http://infinitylovespell.website2.me/ you can also visit my blog at http://donnakelvin150.over-blog.com, THANKS TO DR.GREAT..

    ReplyDelete