It’s (the last) time…

PN4eqLdAFor 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.

 

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6 Replies to “It’s (the last) time…”

  1. I am so distressed by the chaos of this General Conference. As someone who tried to bring an alternative process to Robert’s rules so people could have a gracefilled conversation, I remain in shock at the lack of civility. You simply can not legislate what this church needs to move forward.
    Prayers continuing….

  2. Wept as I read this… wept for a church which has in many ways lost our way… my family roots in Methodism go back (oral tradition no firm documentation) to 1808 before Indiana was a state. John Wesley, Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury, Peter Cartwright and the Circuit Riders were and are my heros. My lifestyle of ministry without rest, without reservation… nothing held back follows their example where many of the circuit riding pastors worked themselves to death by 30 or 35.
    My home church was a place of safety in a dark neighborhood and city. I have always loved Methodism historic and in places still visible heart for the “Least, Last and Lost. ” Ond thing I loved about being UM in South Bend was that liberal or conservative, black or white, male or female did not stop us from working together on any areas we could.
    In high school I and some others on the more conservative end were at a pro-life prayer vigil. Pro-choice picketters were across the street, many screaming obscenities at us. I looked across (and NOT one of the screamers) saw someone with a sign and realized they were from another UM church which we did a combined food pantry. We went over, chatted and went back to our prayers vs. Picketters. Different perspectives on abortion did not mean we could not run a food pantry together, serve at the soup kitchen and discuss the Scriptures (Even though we of course both believe we are correct on opposite ends). God will sort out the areas with which we collide.
    We worked with churches and groups and people in any area where we could and stepped back on those where we in good conscience could not.
    Those days are over… Christian decency is largely lost and we see the enemy as each other. Two world views — which no longer share the same essential core and cannot or will not work together. How Jesus must weep! May God havs mercy on the Divided Methodist Church.

    1. It is indeed possible, but if that is the case, then we are already lost as the body can not discerna way to move forward either.

  3. There s no question in my mind, how I would vote on this issue. The bottom line is: What are the greatest commandments, God has laid down: 1. To Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. 2. Treat your neighbor as yourself. Love is the bottom line. If someone feels God’s calling to be a minister, who am I to judge whether they should become one or not. That is between God and that person. Every human is a child of God and created in his image. We must love everyone. There are no BUTS! Praying that the Methodist will find that unity is more important than whether or not a gay or a lesbian ca be a minister. Hoping the Bishops come back with a decision that unifies the denomination or we will probably see a division in the faith…..won’t be the first one but praying for all involved in this process.

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