Pastor’s ponderings

This weekend I am away serving as a Spiritual Director on a Walk to Emmaus weekend, wherein nearly 20 women are being led to a further understanding of their faith journey – what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and how that discipleship is lived out in our daily lives.  For me, it is a true blessing to watch the transformation of people as they walk with Jesus during this three-day journey.  It brings me hope, joy, and spiritual renewal.

Yet, this weekend, I also will be missing out on something – a special, called Annual Conference session.  On Saturday, Oct. 7th, the UMC churches in our Virginia Conference will once again gather to approve the disaffiliation of the final group of churches exiting the denomination under the provisions that will expire at the end of this year.  On the docket are 120 churches from across Virgina, 32 of which are from our Living Waters district (including three within a few miles of our Parish).  I’m happy that these churches are finding their way, but am saddened at the state of where we are.

Several years ago, a friend told me that he thought what was happening was analogous to splitting wood.  Full logs are very strong.  It often takes several hits with a maul to get the first good split.  Yet, with each successive hit thereafter, wedges break off more and more easily, because the portion of the log is weaker than the whole.  Such as what has happened to the Church.  Over a couple thousand years, we have found ourselves being splintered off in so many different ways, and with each split, we have become weaker and weaker in our witness to the world.

Perhaps it is time for another Great Awakening in the Church universal.  Perhaps it is time for a spiritual renewal in all of us. We need to do away with emotions, thoughts, and words of division.  God loves us all.  Jesus died for us all.  The Holy Spirit works among us all.  So, as the old saying goes, “Why can’t we all just get along?”  Why can’t the Body of Christ be the united Body we were intended to be?

If you really read the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s letters to the early churches, this has always been the rallying cry – unity above all, finding the common ground upon which we all can bear witness.  We serve the same Jesus!  The same Jesus died for us all!  The same Jesus gave us the gift of his Spirit that we may continue his ministry in the world!

Perhaps the time has come to set aside our differences, to stop being Sadducees and Pharisees arguing over legalism and church doctrine, and instead be disciples of Jesus Christ, proclaiming the Good News and transforming the world, instead of allowing it to keep chipping away at who we are as Christians until there is nothing left.  Perhaps it is time for us to stand united, for as another friend boldly proclaims each and every week – We are better together!
                                                                        Always pondering,

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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