A couple of times of late I've felt compelled to Facebook post one of those "My heart is heavy" posts, and the UMC has certainly provided lots of opportunity of late. I'm not one to just throw stuff out there on a daily basis, but rather I sit on it and stew for a while...sometimes as a way to verify if it is just my mood for the day or that it truly is something...discerning, praying, reflecting. In this Lenten season time of reflection I find myself reflecting. A lot.
This is not a blog about what is right or wrong or how you should think in this time of discerning the future of the UMC, but rather it is encouragement to individually look deep into what the UMC should look like. Our future ability to do mission and good works depends on how United we remain. So research. Dig. Believe me, there's tons of stuff out there. Discern. Pray. But most of all, care. Care for this church, pray for this church that we can continue to be as United as possible, yet as Open as possible. And then get to work.
Work towards unity in the church, so that we can re-focus on making disciples for the transformation of the world, versus internal bickering. How? Start with yourself. Then what? Be receptive in your reflecting. Last Sunday my wife and I were at Hays, Kan. First UMC making a (Lakeside) Camping Ministry Sunday presentation, and Pastor Mike Rose was talking about faith in action. He used James 2:14-17, "What good it is, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?.... So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
Pastor Rose started by having us hold up our hands in praise, then bringing them down with open palms to receive. Leaving our right hand open, we were to squeeze our left hand into a fist. Tight. Hard. And hold it. "How does that feel? Getting tired of it? Now open your hand as if to receive. Feels good, doesn't it?" It does feel good. And in the same way we can stop, reflect, and open ourselves to receive what God has to offer, to consider what it means to be open and loving and caring, to open up as Christ would have us do.
We shared together the hymn "Fill My Cup, Lord” and verse two seemed perfect, encouraging us to receive the treasure of Jesus and to go out and offer it for the transformation of the world. Verse two...I've taken the liberty of making the "I" into "we:"
There are millions in this world who are craving
The pleasures earthly things afford;
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That we find in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Fill our cups Lord, we lift them up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of our souls;
Bread of heaven, Feed us till we want no more--
Fill our cups, fill them up and make us whole!
So be faithful, be open to what God has in store for us and the UMC, be confident in the leading of our God, trusting...receiving...in order to be made whole. There are millions craving earthly treasure who need to hear what we have to offer. Don't get discouraged with the current headlines of the UMC but rather be who we are called to be, get your cup filled by the one universal God and get to work.
Hays District Director of Lay Servant Ministry