On Thursday, we began to leave for St. Louis. Delegates, alternates (like myself), and observers are beginning to make the journey to the Called General Conference of The United Methodist Church, which will take up questions of human sexuality and the future structures of the denomination. I’m thirsty for this!
We will spend Saturday in prayer—a fitting way to begin an exercise that truly is beyond human capacity. From Sunday to Tuesday we will meet and confer and vote on plans that were prepared through the work of the Commission on A Way Forward. But if God doesn’t show up, it doesn’t matter what those days will bring. As our bishop, Sharma D. Lewis, likes to say, however, “Would you look at God!”
I’m thirsty because I know we need a new day, a fresh wind of the Spirit, and a foundation on which to ground this church other than the 40-year debate we have been having that has been poisoned by the same cultural and political currents that have led to our nation’s Great Divide. I am thirsty for a church that lives out of its knowledge of the grace of the cross and the communion of the saints. I am thirsty for what comes next!
If you’re thirsty, too, pray with me for the delegates from around the world who will be gathering at the General Conference. Pray for all of the people in this world for whom the United Methodist mission is meant. Pray for the joy and hope that can be unleashed by God.
St. Louis is known for its arch, a symbol of its identity as the Gateway to the West. The westward expansion of the United States has a troubled history, filled with violence and loss for the native Americans who lived there and for many of those who left their own troubled lands to settle there. But there was a dream embedded in that gateway, too—a dream that there was still an open place where a new day could dawn.
The United Methodist Church has it’s own troubled history, but this week we meet beneath the arch with a dream. And I look forward to what comes next.
For a list of Heartland essays, poems, book reviews, and prayers related to General Conference, click here.
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