This year’s Annual Conference was an extremely controversial one. If you haven’t heard the details, feel free to check out this article. I am intentionally writing about something other than the details and my opinions on the issue; the details have been rehashed a million times, and my opinions don’t matter nearly as much as the faith I share with the other 200,000+ United Methodists in this conference.So I’d like to write a little bit about that sharing part.
Division makes for pretty exciting news. So does controversy. So it isn't surprising that most of the blog entries and articles have highlighted the controversial, divisive aspects of what happened at Lakeside this year. But my experience that day was not limited to division and controversy. In fact, I left that afternoon with a much different word in mind…
After the debate was finished, the votes were cast, and the results were announced, we sang the hymn “And Are We Yet Alive?” As we sang that hymn, from the front to the back of the auditorium, our conference joined hands and worshiped God together. It was the most spontaneous and beautiful act of worship I experienced all week. That moment could have been filled with many things: winners and losers, victory and defeat, us and them…but instead that moment was filled with God.
Not our opinions. Not our disagreements. Not our politics.
And for just a moment, God really, REALLY reigned in our conference.
Now, I’d be lying if I gave the impression that our conference is now enjoying a season of blissful unity. It's actually quite the opposite. This decision has caused and will continue to cause great controversy. We have a long road ahead of us, but let’s not forget that we’re in this together. We are not defined by what separates us, rather we are defined by what binds us together.
Call me crazy and naive, but I know that as we move forward, we are capable of living out God’s command to be one in Christ. I know because that day as we joined hands and worshiped God together, I saw a glimpse of God’s vision- for our conference and for the world. I saw a people whose love of God is greater than their disagreements and even dislikes of one another. I saw a church divided on an issue, yet united in worship of a God who transcends every wall we have built and every wall we could ever build.
As we journey together, let’s remember all that we share…
"I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."
In Christ, we are yet alive.