Sunday, September 21, 2014

Assorted Thoughts and Questions on the UMC

In which I mostly question why UMCs don't do various things more often/at all.

-- Methodist Crossroads is encouraging people to be in prayer for 90 days for the United Methodist Church and its leaders, and even though I don't completely agree with their position, I think this is a very good idea. In the prayers of the people at the Anglican Church I've been attending in Budapest, every week we pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the local bishops by name ("Strengthen Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, and our bishops, Robert and David"), as well as praying for a couple of diocese around the world, based on set cycles of prayer. I've never been in a Methodist church that so publicly and regularly prayed for its leaders and global body. (The exception is with missionaries - I was a member of a church that prayed for the UM missionaries who'd had birthdays that week.) Making a habit of praying for our leaders and praying for our church - our global church - is an important part of being in connection, and as a denomination we claim to value connectionalism. Praying for our leaders and church also helps us truly give these issues over to God. The problems the UMC is having are not problems we should be solving on our own.

-- In Wesley's sermon 7 (The Way to the Kingdom), he mentions the Athanasian creed along with the Apostles' and the Nicene. The Athanasian creed isn't even in the UM hymnal, though. Why not? Why don't we use it? The Anglican Church doesn't seem to, either, at least not much. Did they at the time that Wesley wrote the sermon? It's a very trinitarian creed. Is there something objectionable that I've missed in it?

-- Once a month, the Anglican church I've been attending does a healing anointing. This reminded me of the fact that earlier this week I read some articles and tweets about how a lot of UMs and UMCs seem to not expect - or necessarily want, sometimes - transformation and about how it seems like we don't really believe that God is actively working in miraculous ways. (The specific example was with healing. When we pray for healing, do we really believe that God will do it?) The healing anointing in the service is simple, and it's quick, but its practice and the prayers that are said imply and encourage a belief in a living, working, healing God. Is there a reason this isn't a common practice in the UMC? I know there's a service of healing in the Book of Worship, but this is much less involved than that.

Then again, most UMCs only offer communion once a month and often say they don't do it more often because of the length, so asking for something else to be added to service, even occasionally, is a stretch. (The communion thing is ridiculous, by the way. It's a means of grace, for heaven's sake. Weekly communion, please. And no, offering the elements to people individually in a chapel afterwards is not the same.)

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