Above is a link to the Connectional Table of the UMC in case anyone who might read this is unfamiliar with it and it’s stated goals and mission. They have a new proposal that they are trying to put forward that is, in my not terribly humble opinion, crap. That is not what this is about, but it is the inspiration for this so it should be included for completeness. The Church world wide, not just the UMC, but every Christian church, has a singular connectional table. Most of our problems start and end with losing sight of that table.
Matthew 26:26-28. “Mat 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take this, and eat it. This is my body.”
Mat 26:27 Then he took a cup and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you.
Mat 26:28 This is my blood, the blood of the promise. It is poured out for many people so that sins are forgiven. ” This is the table that connects us all. It is amazing, it did not need a committee of church politicians to institute or make work, just a group of dedicated believers and even a betrayer. After this, and after the resurrection, the mission became clear as well…
“Mat 28:16 The eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go.
Mat 28:17 When they saw him, they bowed down in worship, though some had doubts.
Mat 28:18 When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 28:20 Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”
Hard to argue with the mission there. Notice that Jesus did not give a whole lot of instruction on how this was to be accomplished…that is because the how is nowhere near as important (within reason and boundaries. No, we can not use nude dancers with tattoos of scripture as a sermon illustration for example) as the message. Again, no committee was needed to sort all of this out, just a dedicated group of believers.
I could go on and on with examples like this, but I shall not. Yes, I understand that the church is an organization and as such requires rules and administration. I think that the best way to handle it is not more committees and groups trying to push their answers, but rather a renewed commitment to the table that connects us and the mission entrusted to us. When those things arise that require solutions arise, I would like to refer to one of my favorite Franciscans, William of Ockham. “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” It is often stated in different language and stronger terms than was intended, but this is the original idea, translated from Latin. We have a table that connects us. We have a mission that unites us. Any other table who claims that it connects is an unnecessary multiplication. Any other mission that drives us that is not fueled by the commission from Christ is an unnecessary multiplication. What the church is going through (all denominations) is tragic, but stems from the fact that we are trying to unnecessarily multiply that which already brought us together as brothers and sisters in faith for all time. We have a table that connects us. We have a mission that unites us. Let us all put our faith and focus there.