Life and the Church
These past few days, while many of my church-friends have been focused on St. Louis, watching or participating in the proceedings of The United Methodist Church at our called General Conference, I’ve been at home caring for my mother-in-law as she enters into hospice care and as our family faces the end of our time together with her.
Now that General Conference has ended, I wanted to share a couple of reflections that have occurred to me in this unusual and liminal time at home.
First of all, our connectional life together is, ultimately, an embodied faith. Remote decisions made by delegated voters on a livestream feed pale in comparison to the life-on-life incarnational work of ministry. Kind words matter. A gentle touch matters. Pain and suffering are real. No moments in genuine, heart-felt conversation are wasted. Please, brothers and sisters, remember to be kind to one another. Listen to each other. It matters.
Secondly (and I’m going to geek out a little bit here), in those long stretches of quiet that I’ve been at home, I’ve been finishing a history of the Anglo-Saxon Church from about 550-1100. Folks, I’m here to tell you that the Church has never been perfect. It has always been a messy, messy work in progress. It has done harm to others, and to itself, and to its witness. It has grown, and suffered, and retreated, and been reborn. And yet, through it all, God seems to not have given up on the Church, in spite of our best efforts to muddy things up. God seems interminably patient with the Church. To use some (older) Methodist-speak, “The Church is of God and will be preserved unto the end of time.”
My hope is that in all of the messy-ness of our current United Methodist Church, as divided as we are, God will grant us—for sharing with each other—a mere portion of His boundless patience towards us. May we find and offer and extend that patience to one another, and to ourselves.