We are at that point in the Christian Year when everything is green. As we count the Sundays After Pentecost until Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday, we are working with each other, aided by the Holy Spirit, to establish an embodied realm of God’s love and justice for all of creation.
Here, in the Northeast, I equate the fullness of summer with our aim for the reign of Christ. Imagine with me that the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost is like the beginning of spring. Early spring brings the promise of melt and the coming of warmth and the lengthening of days. The weeping willows are often the first sign of color in world of grey and mud. The willows turn their bright yellow, the maples and oaks first show signs of red as the leaves begin to bud. There are a few weeks of bright green as leaves are new and grass resurrects from the lifeless muck that had been plowed and trampled. Now that spring is over and summer is here, every living tree is fully green - harbors for birds and squirrels and chipmunks.
Each year, this process of emerging and growing green reminds me of the Season after Pentecost, building to the Reign of Christ. In the continual growth of green and life, I see the spreading of good news of God’s love. I match the weeping willows with the friends of Jesus who wept at his torture and death. I see the red buds of oaks and maples as the blood of the martyrs of the early church. Slowly the trees develop into their fullness of life with green leaves and red leaves and brown leaves too, until the whole of the region feels completely alive. The work of the church is to spread (with the empowering presence of the Spirit) the good news of forgiveness and salvation found in Jesus. As this good news spreads across the earth, from community to community, freeing each and every child of God to know God’s love, the reign of Christ is established. This our work and our goal to spread the growth of love and grace until it covers every corner of creation.
I love this analogy - but you may be asking “what about the evergreens?” The evergreens are of course a part of this relational realm of God. In my thinking, the evergreens represent the people of God already in covenant - who have always known and maintained connection to and life in the presence of God.
Having shared with you this image - I have to ask - do you desire to spread the growth of good news as we establish a forest of grace? Are you marveling at the growing realm? How are you participating in this greening process?
OK - it is that time of year again - Annual Conference this year is back in Syracuse at the ON Center June 5-8. There, many United Methodists will gather to worship, Bible study, Holy Conference and to once again elect delegates to General Conference in 2020. Not surprisingly, there will be more debate and controversy about what happened at the Special General Conference and the following Judicial Council decisions and what it all means for the future of our congregations, Annual Conference and Denomination.
So - What happened? In a nutshell, the Global UMC voted, through its clergy and laity representatives, by a narrow margin (53% to 47%) to adopt the Traditional Plan which not only maintains exclusionary language, it reinforces the exclusion of certain folks from full inclusion in the UMC and also introduces mandatory punishments for non-conformity.
Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb has announced regional gatherings that he will be hosting throughout the Upper New York Conference in April and May. These regional gatherings will primarily focus on unpacking the Judicial Council’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the petitions that made up the Traditional Plan affirmed by the delegates of the 2019 Special Session of The General Conference. It will also be a time to help attendees to understand what becomes part of the Book of Discipline on January 1, 2020 and what does not. These times will include an opportunity for questions and conversation about what God might be doing in and through The United Methodist Church in the future. There will be a brief time of worship at each gathering as well.
Our local gathering will be May 29, 2019 from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at Shenendahowa UMC.
For a re-cap of General Conference 2019 decisions and Judicial Council rulings - information may be found at this site: http://www.unyumc.org/events/general-conference-decisions-2019.
For information about traditionalist ideologies - please visit wesleyancovenant.org
For information about inclusive ideologies - please visit rmnnetwork.org
For information an article by Walter WInk “Homosexuality and the Bible” please visit: http://www.godweb.org/wink.htm
Look for a re-cap of Annual Conference in our next Muse!Blessings,