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Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Where to Go!?

I have been enjoying my time spent with each of the clergy in the Columbia District, doing whatever they want to do. We have been to the zoo, the State Museum, The Columbia Museum of Art, visiting the homeless, shut-ins, hospitals, taking communion to people, sitting in on church visioning, learning to make pottery, etc. It has been good.

On one trek, a pastor took me to Congaree Creek Park where clay has been dug for several hundred years. One of the more interesting things I have seen in all of the activities over the past several months of being on these outings with pastors was something I saw in the middle of the remants of the old clay mining operation. Sticking out from a huge tree were two railroad track irons about ten feet up. They were evidently used as part of a means to get the clay out of the nearby pit.

All kinds of metaphors have been coming to mind. First, they reminded me of my trip to Coventry Cathedral in England which was bombed by the Nazis in WWII. As the rubble of the cathedral was cleared in the chancel there were two burned beams that had fallen and made a cross. It is still viewed today as a sign of Christ's sacrifice and the need for human forgiveness. Second, I thought of our denomination, especially as Constitutional Amendments will be voted on at this year's Annual Conference. We're at a crossroads. I don't oppose the amendments on the worldwide nature of the UMC because of liberal or conservative reasons. I oppose them because they would switch us from Connectionalism to a pseudo-Presbyterian/Anglican regional understanding of who we are as a church. Regions would be able to adapt how we live out the Gospel with such division that we would be living a false advertising, "The UNITED Methodist Church." We wouldn't be united if these pass.

There are other crossroads that we face in life with the economy, jobs, day-to-day decisions. Those rail lines stuck up in a tree are useless. I don't want our church to end up a dead sect, useless to God. We're never exactly where we're meant to be on this side of heaven, but, pray God, we've got to do more than be picked up by history as an appendage to a tree. We have to stay alive, grow in Christ, live the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, or... look at the picture.

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