I grew up in the United Methodist Church and then married a wonderful man who is on the path to becoming a fully ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church. To say this church means a lot to me is an understatement. This is a church that taught me about God and his love. They are the ones that taught me God loves everyone no matter who they are and what they have done. They taught me how wrong it is for us to judge. They taught me to reach out to those who need help and helped shape a heart that has a yearning to become a crisis counselor.
The church I grew up in and later was the youth pastor’s wife in works in the community tutoring kids in the schools, working the library so the kids can have a library, and even provide clothes to the students who need help purchasing uniforms. They provide food to the poor on the holidays and help low-income parents provide gifts to their children on Christmas. Their youth have reached out to the homeless, fellowshipped with them, fed them, and spent a night out in the cold in the downtown streets during a large ministry event to better understand them.
Our current church has a heart bigger than one could imagine. They participate in running a food pantry with two other churches to make sure no one goes hungry. They trained themselves in first aid and are trained enough to provide much-needed shots to someone who has
So when the decision from the general conference was announced on Tuesday to say I was upset was an understatement. This was not the church I knew that reached out to everyone with a loving heart. This was not the church that loudly lived by the slogan Open hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. The church I knew would never try and limit God’s love and or tell someone they aren’t qualified to answer God’s call because of who they are. In a world where everyone is a sinner this decision truly baffled me. How could a church that claims to welcome everyone make a decision to make some of its member feel second class or somehow less worthy of God than others. In a world where everyone has done something wrong and unworthy of God what gave them the power to tell certain people they aren’t good enough.
Then I took a step back and realized it isn’t just this church that seems to choose the wrong path, but this country, in general, seems to be following a dangerous path. A path that is devoid of God’s love but followed because the Devil is a wondrous liar and convinced so many it is the path of love. Despite all the bad and hopelessness that seems to abound I see God at work still. It’s in the people standing up and saying “No! This is wrong!” The citizens of this country everywhere have begun to stand up for what they know deep down is morally right. Now that fight is at the door of the United Methodist Church. Let’s take this heartbreaking event and use it as fuel to pull together, rise up, and fight for what we know God is really all about.
The General Conference just sent a message that not all are allowed to serve God and receive his love. If we do nothing or run away, we send the message that they are right. Instead, let’s stand up and speak up and show this country we do not agree. Let’s inspire the younger generations to get involved so their voices can be heard and make the change we so desperately need. The United Methodist Church is a global church and that makes this fight so much harder, but fighting for God’s love is always worth doing. God never says his work will be easy but it is always worth doing. Right now it can be tempting to wash our hands and walk away and go to a church that has already fought this fight, but I do not believe that is God’s calling for us. He needs those who can see the falling of this church and the hurt that was recently inflicted and begin changing from the inside. Let us take up God’s mission and show The General Conference what having Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors really means.
Dear Lord, our hearts are heavy today. Our church has fallen short of the love and grace you so openly give to all who ask for it. Right now things seem hopeless and it is hard to see how we can make the change that needs to be made. It is hard to see how we can make any difference, but I know you don’t want this church to fall. Lead us, Lord. Show us the way. Help us be the change and be your heart in the United Methodist Church. Help us prune what is not right in your eyes and be your loving arms. Help us to stop seeing sin and what’s different and instead help us see your creation. Help us suspend judgment and instead choose the loving path with each decision we make each day. Help us be the church you need us to be. Amen