So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
This past week the United Methodist Church held a special called session of General Conference.
The purpose of the gathering was to discern and decide on a way forward in ministry, to one another and to the world, stemming from conflict around the Church’s teaching on human sexuality; in particular, the practice of homosexuality, ordination, and marriage.
On Tuesday of this week the Delegates, elected prior to the General Conference of 2016, and comprising members from around the globe, voted on a number of provisions put forward through church legislative activity. The delegates voted to retain the language of the current Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. (The plan that was passed is sometimes called the Modified Traditional Plan.) Additionally, they added policies to the Book of Discipline that describe what it means to keep the covenant. In particular Bishops, Pastors, and those involved in the Ordination process will be held accountable to the teaching of the Church in all matters. (If you would like a greater summary, see this account: https://peopleneedjesus.net/2019/02/27/gc2019-update-5/)
If you have kept abreast of these matters, you will know that the persuasions and emotions of many who love Christ and God’s church have undergone great unrest. There are questions about how the vote and subsequent decisions will ultimately shape the denomination of which Schweitzer is a part. What we do know is that the United Methodist Church continues to be in step with scripture, and christian tradition. We do know that “God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.” (United Methodist Book of Discipline, 2016; Para. 161.G)
Before dawn on Tuesday, I read the text, from Hebrews, that began this letter. Those words of challenge arise out of the story of “heroes of the faith” – they ran the race God set before them, enduring a wide variety of difficult days. They did it in looking to Jesus, and we too, in good days and in difficult days are invited to look, always, to Jesus. In looking to Him, we receive strength and courage to be people of truth, faith, hope and love in all moments of life, to all the people we encounter.
It is our aim, at Schweitzer, to be a people who look to Jesus, to be recipients of the Father’s grace, transformed by the Spirit’s power, and sharers of Jesus’ ministry with others.
Thanks for your prayers for the Church, for Schweitzer, and this beloved community of Springfield.
We look forward to seeing you Sunday! We continue the journey with Jesus through the Gospel of Luke.
God’s best to you,