“Joy Comes” will be a blog that alludes to the passage of scripture in Psalm 35:4, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Joy Comes will be about hope — which seems elusive at this time — for unity within the United Methodist Church “family.” This hope comes through the “weeping” for some sisters and brothers who have conceded to “amicable separation” as what they may be praying for. Therefore, the greatest hope with some in our larger family is a peaceful division of the denomination. Much like the church split in 1844 over the single issue of slavery and the complicated ethical and political issues in the country surrounding this matter, we now come to the brink of separation again, this time regarding homosexuality.
My hope is higher than division; and my excitement for a stronger, more focused denomination comes through my pastoral experience with YOU — Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. So, let’s talk.
Joy Comes will be written as, “Pastor to beloved congregation.” Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, for the past 20 years I have been blessed by God in pastoring YOU. God has taught me so much and is still teaching me, through service with one another in this 73-year-old church family. My prayer is that Joy Comes will not be experienced as a “bully pulpit” or “preachy.” I do not want it to come across as having a corner on the correct approach. Rather, I aspire to write in a testimonial way, to hopefully be helpful to our congregation of United Methodists here in Dallas as we navigate through a journey as a denomination.
Lovers Lane, we are surely not a people of one mind, but we must continue to be a people of one heart.
We will stand united, no matter what the denomination does, if we have the spiritual maturity to realize that we do not all have to believe alike, vote alike, look alike, or live alike, but we do all have to love alike — like our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Be reminded that we state in our congregational vision why we exist, and that is to be “One diverse community, passionately engaging the Bible, uplifting Jesus in worship and loving service and challenging in love that which divides.” Moreover, is not there plenty in our culture today that divides? Does that make us “right” or “left” “conservative” or “progressive”? The answer is “yes,” and this is the key to our unity.
May we never be a congregation that is brought to our knees by a culture that would have us bow at the altar of “homogeny,” or continue to disobey and disavow our Book of Discipline, or accept division as our only way forward. Joy Comes will aspire to be a conversation grounded in the belief that God will reveal for United Methodists a “more excellent way” forward. Join weekly in our discussion, and if you think our conversation is helpful, share it with others, and invite them to eavesdrop, or even join.
Our Lovers Lane mantra is “ALL are welcome,” and in that spirit let us not just talk, but let’s talk unity and pray for it, too.