For any of you who had a momentary spark of excitement thinking this would be my last blog…sorry. This is about several things that have the potential to happen at General Conference for the last time though.
A significant thing happened from the floor of General Conference. The body voted to ask the Council of Bishops to go and pray and discern a way forward to bring back to the body. This is not binding. The body may not even discuss the proposal. For that matter, the Council of Bishops may not submit anything. No matter what it’s the last time for some things. If the bishops come back with a plan, then it is the last time we get to say they are not leading. We can say it takes them to long, we can say we disagree, we can say a lot, but we can not say that when the body cried out, they did not hear the cry and answer. By their own admission, they have been in conversation with numerous leaders of the caucus groups, so they should know the positions well. By their own admission they are not unified, so they should know each other’s positions well in so far as what they are willing and unwilling to endorse. In short they have access to all of the information, and arguably more, than any of us reading this. There is no excuse to not lead. It’s the last time.
If the bishops can not present a plan that could pass their vote as if it were the General Conference, then it is the last time they can, with any integrity, try to move things along or express frustration, pain, or anything else save for the admittance that it could not be done. It’s the last time they can call on us, as the body, to do so also. A plan that can not pass their muster is only slightly better than no plan at all. It says to us that the best that they can do is the gridlock that we find ourselves in. Everyone seems pretty confident that gridlock is unacceptable. If they have nothing better than you or I, then they can not help our seemingly unsolvable conundrum. It’s the last time we can ask.
If the Bishops return with numerous options, then it is the last time that we can hope for real guidance. The body was not asking for options, it was asking for guidance. It was saying we are blind, help to heal us so that we may see the way. We are deaf, open our ears so we can hear. We are dumb, open our mouths that we may speak, and speak in a more excellent way. We are not asking you to be a doctor and give us options, we are begging you to model the Great Physician and help to heal us. We don’t need options, we need a direction. We need healing, and if it can not be had, then it is the last time.
All is not gloom and doom. It’s the last time, but that does not have to be an ending. If the plan is workable and results in real progress and conversation of anything resembling a solution, then it’s the last time that we are hopelessly deadlocked in this matter. If they help to heal us, it is the last time we call out in naked desperation and the beginning of our crying out in hopeful expectation. If they lead us forward, it is the last time that we tarry here in the same place for longer than I have been alive. It’s the last time.
If the worst happens, if Bishops choose to not come back with a plan, it is the last time that we can look to them, as a group, with any expectation of leadership or integrity. (To be clear, I do, and will continue to have, respect for the individuals and the offices, but it will be the last time I look to them as a collective whole for leadership.) They called for unity even though they did not have any. It felt like they were passing the buck, but I am willing to accept that they were confessing a flaw and holding the General Conference accountable to its duty. That flaw must heal, and must heal quickly. The body cried out. Not Good News or Reconciling Ministries. Not the IRD or Love Prevails. The Body of the faithful cried out and said, as one, we do not know the way. This might be the closest we have been to actual unity in a long time in that respect. We begged for help. We confessed we were the one lost lamb and begged the Bishops to act as The Good Shepherd. If they can not find us, it’s the last time.