Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thoughts from Annual Conferences, Part 3

Here's the third and final part of my thoughts based on quotes from Annual Conferences over the past few weeks. This post focuses a lot on community, diversity, and inclusivity. And with that, here are the guiding questions I've been considering:

"4 questions to cultivate dreaming: What is our purpose? Who do we serve? What are our core values? Who is good at what? #impact2014 #ntc2014" (tweeted by Adam Young)

I'm going to start this with something about which my mother feels very strongly because on this, she has passed her conviction onto me:

Youth and young persons are not the future of the church! We are the church, we are here now! #gpumc - Wesley Gately
The youth is not the future, we are the church of now! #AC2014 #Okumc (tweeted by Ismael Carrillo)
I'm so proud of the youth delegates you all worked hard all night! #KingdomBuilding #okumc #ac2014 (tweeted by Jimmie Brandon)
Rev LD: Youth are not the future of the church - they are the present. #neumc14 (tweeted by John Chickering)
"Friendly reminder to #neumc14 that younger delegates are delegates too. Even if they look very young. Don't tell them they're not adults." - Patsy Frey-Davis

Those five tweets came from three different conferences. This is not a problem at a single church or in a single place; it's a global issue. Youth and young adults above confirmation age are full members of the church and must be treated as such. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'" (1 Cor. 12:21, NIV) Youth and young adults are part of the church, and there are privileges and responsibilities that come along with that. When the church gives them privileges and no responsibilities, responsibilities and no privileges, or just ignores them altogether, the church is cutting off parts of its body. Young people have a lot to contribute; let us be involved.  We are part of the future, but calling us the future of the church limits the expectations for us and the opportunities given to us. Don't relegate us to the future. We are here now, we are members now, and we are the church now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thoughts from Annual Conferences, Part 2

More thoughts from Annual Conferences all over the country, as well as similar gatherings of other denominations. Here are the questions I said I'd use to start each of these posts:

"4 questions to cultivate dreaming: What is our purpose? Who do we serve? What are our core values? Who is good at what? #impact2014 #ntc2014" (tweeted by Adam Young)

First off, thoughts from Rev. Lillian Daniel's sermon at the New England Annual Conference remembrance and memorial service, and then some related notes from other parts of NEAC, from the conference of the Massachusetts United Church of Christ, and from Bishop Hayes at the Oklahoma AC.

"Memorial and grieving...is one of the things the church does well." - Rev. Lillian Daniel #neumc14 (tweeted by Anne Hillman)
"It's the fallacy of the world that teaches that we do it [discernment] all by yourself." -Rev Lillian Daniel (tweeted by Becca Girrell)
"You don't have to do it all...and love covers a multitude of things." - Lillian Daniel #neumc14 (tweeted by Melissa Yosua-Davis)
"Grief is the cost of loving well. And love makes up for almost anything." Rev. Daniel (modified tweet from Laura Everett)

These four quotes together are a decent summary of Rev. Daniel's sermon, and there's a certain beauty about them that I love. I agree that memorial is something the church does well; in a way, it is one of the things on which the church is built. Think of communion. As a Methodist, I don't believe that communion is only a memorial because I do believe in the presence of Christ in the elements, but that doesn't discount the extent to which it is a memorial act. "Do this in remembrance of me." And communion is a sacrament. It unites us as a global body of Christ, and it is our sustenance as the body. With communion as a central practice, the church needs to do memorial well, and it succeeds. Thanks be to God.

But that doesn't mean we like to grieve. As individuals - sometimes even as the church - it is too easy to try to lock grief away. But grief results from love, and love is the greatest and most important commandment.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thoughts from Annual Conferences, Part I

I follow a lot of feeds related to the United Methodist church on Twitter, so I've seen tweets from a variety of Annual Conferences. The Northeast Annual Conference - my conference for the past fourteen months - is this weekend, and I've been watching the live feed. I've also been watching videos from the Oklahoma Annual Conference (my conference for over fifteen years).

Through all of this, I've gathered a bunch of quotes on which I want to comment, and this will probably take multiple posts. I'm going to start off every post with this, which I love:

"4 questions to cultivate dreaming: What is our purpose? Who do we serve? What are our core values? Who is good at what? #impact2014 #ntc2014" - Adam Young

Sunday, June 8, 2014

All of Them Were Filled with the Holy Spirit

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."
Acts 2:4 

Acts of the Apostles 2

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Und es geschah schnell ein Brausen vom Himmel wie eines gewaltigen Windes und erfüllte das ganze Haus, da sie saßen; y se les aparecieron lenguas repartidas, como de fuego, asentándose sobre cada uno de ellos. 4 Et ils furent tous remplis du Saint Esprit, et se mirent à parler en d'autres langues, selon que l'Esprit leur donnait de s'exprimer.

Lakoznak vala pedig Jeruzsálemben zsidók, istenfélõ férfiak, minden nép közül, melyek az ég alatt vannak. Na i te wa i rangona ai taua haruru, ka whakarapopoto te mano, ka pororaru, no te mea ka rangona e tera, e tera, tona reo e korerotia ana e ratou. E todos pasmavam e se admiravam, dizendo uns aos outros: Pois quê! não são galileus todos esses que estão falando? Mailla llajtapi huacharishca, ñucanchij quiquin llajta rimaipimari rimacuncuna. ¿Ima shinataj caicunaca, chashna rimai tucunchu, imamí? Среди нас есть парфяне, мидяне, еламиты, жители Месопотамии, Иудеи и Каппадокии, Понта и провинции Азия, 10 ฟรีเจียและปัมฟีเลีย อียิปต์และส่วนต่างๆ ของลิเบียแถวไซรีน ผู้มาเยือนจากกรุงโรม 11 May mga taga-Creta at taga-Arabya. Sa sarili nating mga wika ay naririnig natin silang nagsasalita ng mga dakilang bagay ng Diyos. 12 Mọi người đều sửng sốt và hoang mang nói với nhau, “Việc nầy có nghĩa gì?” 13 Nhưng mấy người khác chế nhạo và nói, “Họ say rượu mới đó mà.” 13 可是另有些人嘲笑說:「他們被新酒灌醉了!」

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Voice Behind You

(Modified from a devotional for the college Christian Fellowship mailing list)
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
-- Isaiah 30:21

At the beginning of the school year, I had never heard or read this verse before, or if I had, I didn't remember it. Somehow, though, it became one of my theme verses for the year, simply because it kept showing up. At some point, I decided that maybe I needed these words, so I'd better listen.

Sometimes it's pretty hard to trust that God has a plan for our lives. Personally, I like having a plan for the future, and relinquishing that control to God isn't something that comes easily.  Over the course of this year I've questioned the extent to which I'm an engineer versus a mathematician, gone from swearing up and down that I wouldn't go to grad school to researching grad programs, applied to a lot of internships without much success, was on a committee at my church that led the discussion on selling our building, and am part of the new leadership looking to make significant change in my college's Christian fellowship. At times of uncertainty, it was really hard to believe that God had a plan for me, for the church, and for the club.

Even harder than trusting that God has a plan, though, is trusting in that plan.