It’s been a long day. It started off with helping lead worship at Haygood. I love my church. Our District Superintendent preached for us. He did an amazing job. At least that’s what I have to say, right Mike? It really was a great sermon on Jesus praying for us in John 17. Our music ministry knocked it out of the park.
I had to book it out of church to make my 2:00pm flight for St. Louis. Had there been a long red light on the way to the airport I might not have made it! But I did. I’m here in St. Louis observing General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our delegates are here to make a decision about the church’s beliefs on human sexuality.
I got to my seat around 3:30 pm and a group of LGBTQ persons marched in step around the perimeter of the conference singing “Hate divides. Love provides.” Earlier in the day, the conference voted on their priorities of issues to address. Many saw this vote as sort of a straw poll of what plan will pass. (For more information about the plans, check out UMC.org). The number one vote-getter was (wait for it) the future of our pensions plan. In essence, the church wants to talk about money and what churches will be able to take with them should they decide to leave and break up of our denomination. The world is watching and our first priority was not theology, not unity, not even the Bible. It was money, plain and simple. It was not one of our better moments.
I gain a sense the people are beginning to feel as though we have to come this place to witness a divorce in our church. There’s a foreboding mood. I’m not there. I do feel like there’s hope tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll consider all the plans we have heard about over the last three years. My own hope is we’ll choose the One Church plan that allows some flexibility in how our churches decide to move forward. It allows for churches who have a more traditional view on marriage to stay their course while also allows other churches to marry same-sex couples. To me, it’s the only way we the United Methodist Church can stay together.
It’s hard not to get sour. I mentioned to a friend that my devotion from this morning was I John 4:16, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” She said, “Isn’t that just like God?” There’s part of me that doesn’t want to love right now. One the way out of the building there were protesters from Westboro Baptist Church yelling all sorts of slanders against gay people. (I guess you’re doing something right when they show up.) With all my being I want to tell those delegates in the United Methodist Church set against the full inclusion of LGBTQ that the UMC will be viewed by future generations in a similar way to those protesters from Westboro. That’s not the church God has called us to be.
It’s hard to love. But love, I must, if I’m to be a disciple of the one we call Jesus. Joy cometh in the morning.