By Jessica Brodie
When we learn big, critical news about something we care very much about, it’s tempting to have an immediate, knee-jerk, gut reaction, then express that reaction instantly across the widest audience possible. Take the big news about The United Methodist Church, which is gearing up for a called special session of General Conference in February to address our divided views on human sexuality (see article here).
Whether we like the two models the Commission on the Way Forward is recommending or not, whether they incite trepidation or anguish or excitement or frustration, this is not a time to get flippant or do rash things. We are members of the body of Christ, and as Christians who call ourselves United Methodist, the best course right now is to pause, breathe, digest and learn as much as we can about our denomination’s possible ways forward.
A couple of churches elsewhere in the nation have pulled out of the UMC, certain they know our denomination’s course. Others are grumbling, while others are avoiding all talk of sexuality or difference for fear talk will lead us astray. Talking is OK—good, even. Likewise for expressing opinions, questioning options, proposing solutions.
But let’s go slowly here. Let’s talk with, not talk at. Let’s talk, not do … yet.
Remember: the two models recommended by the commission are two of many they have been working on—and the two they and the Council of Bishops believe is our denomination’s best way forward in unity. But they’re also not yet final. As we go to press on this edition, the bishops have yet to meet and receive their finalized report from the commission, then craft their report for the special session. And even if we do not like their report, the Judicial Council has yet to rule whether other petitions can factor in. And then the church gets a chance to vote on all of this when we collectively gather in February in St. Louis.
There’s a process for this. The proverbial writing is not on the wall. In fact, as people guided by the Holy Spirit, I would argue anything can happen. God has this in His hands, my friends. His will is going to be done.
So close your eyes and let your lungs fill with the deep, fresh aroma of the Spirit. Give it permission to move in you and use you, to work through you as you do God’s work.
And as you do that work, let one Scripture fill your soul and calm your mind: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).