What am I Driving? Further Reflections on #gc2019

This morning, I met with a group of clergy colleagues in what is a regularly scheduled gathering. Today we shared, reflected, grieved, considered the future and talked about what and how to best share with our local congregations the events of General Conference. I shared an image of the disorientation that I am feeling in response to the passing of the Traditional Plan…

It’s like I am driving our minivan down the highway. I am making progress toward my destination. Everything seems to be running pretty well. We are on the way. I stop to refill the fuel tank and pick up some snacks. As I get out of the vehicle and start to head inside the convenience store, I take a look back and suddenly, it’s not my the minivan. It turns out that it is a truck.

Wait a minute… What?!

I thought I was driving toward a destination and all of a sudden, I realize that I have been driving inside a completely different vehicle. What happened to the familiar surroundings of the vehicle with which I was familiar? What have I been driving all this time?

The re-affirmation of the Traditional Plan three times over – in the prioritization, in legislative committee, and in the plenary session of General Conference 2019 is confusing. I thought that I have been part of a denomination that is moving toward full inclusion throughout the entire life of the church – albeit slowly and hesitatingly. Yet, the evidence of the voting demonstrates that this is not true – at least not on a denominational level. It is frustrating to find that the United Methodist Church turned away from greater inclusion. Yet, it also illuminates the truth: There is a need action in new ways, with creative approaches, and bolder vision. I don’t yet know what this looks like, however I want to help figure out what’s next for a more inclusive church.

The Most Important Parts of the Story of Jesus

At the conclusion of the three week study on the Gospel according to Mark I asked the class to reflect on two questions. I found the responses to be fascinating. Each person has a distinct understanding of Jesus. I feel that all of the following are good responses to the questions, but each person may react differently depending on where they are on the journey of faith.

Questions to the Class

  • If you were telling someone the story of Jesus for the first time what would you want to make sure and not leave out?
  • If you had to tell the story of Jesus to someone in the time that it takes a stoplight to change from red to green (let’s say 1 minute), what would you say?

Responses from the Class

  • God loved us
  • God sent his son
  • We can have eternal life
  • Resurrection
  • Jesus’ birth
  • Jesus took on our sins
  • Jesus accepts us where we are
  • Loves everyone
  • Big picture – connect with the story of the Old Testament
  • Invitation to relationship for benefits
  • Jesus ministry – inclusiveness, compassion, kindness
  • Witness to how Jesus has worked in one’s own life
  • Is there anything you would die for?
  • Opportunity for a personal relationship