Dilemma is a difficult situation or problem in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, neither being easy or comfortable. I had wanted to start this New Year off on a positive foot but my mail box contained an article that I believe will have a great influence on the future of the “church” worldwide. Again we find the Methodist Church sorting through a dilemma that has been with them for decades. In May of 2018 I posted a blog about the situation in the Methodist Church at that time “A Great Denomination….. A Greater Dilemma”. Now, February of this year another step in the process will convene. As the years have gone by I must admit my views have changed a bit but it must be said that the change is due to the increased study of scripture, prayer and biblical commentaries from various authors. I have tried hard to stay clear of emotional agendas, statistical essays, societal guidelines and trends. You might say that I am quite alone here in the weeds of public opinion. A letter published on December 28, 2018, by the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church got my attention once more. It is a reasonable and well thought out letter that seeks to comfort and at the same time make some sense of the dilemma that continues to disrupt the lives of those involved in its community of interest. I want to keep this as simple as possible even though the view from the pew is one of frustration and confusion. Please consider as you read this that it is my opinion, while some thoughts from the “pew” have also made their way into by thinking, I take full responsibility for what I write here.
First the letter or more actually the first of two. The first was and open apology from the Bishops to the LBGTQ community in general. The second being in the form of an explanation of the reason and need of the Special Session of General Conference and an expanded apology for the continuing hurt and discomfort that such discussions bring to their community. My view of these letters is one of acknowledging the hurt and seeking to repair it. I see nothing wrong here but I do see a lot of words that are like more trees planted in the forest, which we can’t see for all the trees already there. This brings me to another article recently published.
“Unity in the Church: Sacred or Scandalous?” by Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst January 2, 2019. The article was in The Call which is a United Methodist publication. The Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst offers a scriptural context to the current debate within the church. Her plea, my words, is the necessity of unity as being necessary for the mission of the church to be successful. I appreciate the use of scripture as a foundation of her belief that unity, even in disagreement is a Christian value and necessary for productive dialog. This is not in any way meant to be disrespectful to the author. There seems to be an attitude of dismissal toward people and views we don’t agree with. Value can always be found even in disagreement and to dismiss the belief of another removes an important step in our learning process. As a layman I am overwhelmed by the avalanche of paper and words that have buried the real issue here. In John 8:12-30 we see that the Jews had become so involved with their own ideas, so intent on their own way, so sure of their own conception of what religion was that they had become blind to God. In some ways we as the “church” today have become blind to what is a sin? We know that sin separates us from God and the acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God, repentance, following him restores that relationship and leads us to salvation. Most discussions, debates or the many words that have been written leave the church with no real answer. I am one that left the Methodist Church because of the turmoil and uncertainty of the direction we were traveling. I did not leave because the Pastor was not to my liking. He is still there and a great Pastor leading a vibrant congregation serving the Lord in their community. I was there thirty or more years and I am still dedicated to the Wesley tradition of living a holy life, striving every day to go on to perfection, serving my God to the best of my ability. Here is what I hope you remember after reading this.
I left because I believed and still do that the Methodist Church is abandoning the very core of christian values that “it” has held and taught for more than fifty years. They are doing so in the mistaken belief that social relevance is important and that the agenda of societal change must be embraced even debating scriptural dictates and changing them to meet their needs. I could go on and on but there comes a time when it is just best to get on your knees and be obedient to God’s will. There are a lot of trees in this forest, step back and accept one fact that is never talked about. It is the judgement of God, before which all of us will stand, that is important in this time of crisis in the Methodist Church. No one knows the mind of God.
We are required to love all people, no one should be turned away from God’s table. Here lies our dilemma…. By whose judgement are people accepted or rejected at the table. Of all the paper and words I have read the following seems to be the best “Way Forward”. Please read and God bless.
Join me again in the pew next week…..
Life is Good