Pure …

The room was dark, and machines worked together in an unnerving melody pumping air where it would not go without help.   The rhythm of pumps and motors combined with the stench of urine and alcohol swabs made her stomach sour.   But still she was determined to see for herself what she knew her parents were holding back.   Her brother Michael was hospitalized with something that she couldn’t begin to pronounce, yet understand.   And all seemed without hope.

As she entered, she heard a few of the prayer cards fall from the shelf.   They were a stark reminder that all hope was about abandoned, it was now totally up to God.   But where was God?   Why wasn’t He doing something?   What would it take for Him to save her brother?   A few more cards fell.   The room was cold, dark and reminded her of a tomb.   She was reminder of the tomb Jesus was in.   Surely, if Jesus could rise from His tomb, He could release her brother from his.

It seemed like hours that she stood there in silent agony.   Her eyes welling up and her lips quivering as she watched him struggle to breathe, she said a silent prayer.   It seemed as they had tried everything, and nothing was bringing the results they were hoping and praying for.  

The next morning, she was there when the medical staff made their rounds.   Her mother broke into wails of agony when they announced that a blood transfusion was his best hope, but his blood type was rare.   So, they suggested that the immediate family be tested for a possible match.   Mother, no.   Father, no.   Brother, no.   After an eternity it was her turn.   Sister, Yes.  

Relief and fear struck the room, like a blast of sulfur on which to breathe.   They were gasping for any air of hope that was possible.   So, she anxiously agreed to the removal of blood for her brothers needs.   She had never done anything like this before, much less been asked to give something so precious.   She looked into his face and found the courage to continue.

In a separate room the stage was set.   All of the medical equipment necessary was wheeled in like a caravan of train cars bringing the circus to town.   The noise of the machines became entwined with the rolling of carts and a commotion two rooms down.   This was not a happy occasion.   This was an occasion where she was being pushed to her limits.   There was no joy, no relief, only anxiety, fear and nervous perspiration.

The nurse tried to make lite of what was going to happen, in fact she calmly said “poke.”   As if that would help.   But it didn’t, in fact it only made things worse.   Now she was pale, ill and ready to vomit, but it had been a long time since she had eaten.   She started to shake and the nurse patted her hand and said; “It’s OK, its almost over.” 

With sadness overtaking her spirit she stared into the nurse’s eyes.   “How long before I die?”   And the room fell silent.

John 15:13 The greatest love you can have for your another is to give your life for them.

Because of her love for her brother, today they enjoy a special relationship, one that most never experience.   Jesus, you’re friend, your sibling, you’re brother, has done the same for you.

In the Greatest of Humility …

On January 1, 2020, the United Methodist Church USA will see a strengthening of the rules and regulations surrounding the issue of sexuality, ordination and the church.   As we all know, a special session of the General Conference of the UMC met in 2019 to address the pressing issue of sexuality and the division it has brought forward.   This issue had been a hotbed of dissension within the UMC for many years.   At that special general conference, the opposite of what was thought actually happened.   The regulations and restrictions against LGBTQI+ individuals were solidified and enhanced.   Not only were the restrictions not relaxed but they will now be held even more accountable come January 1,2020.

Recently the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC has rejected the rulings set down at this special conference.  Five of their active bishops have promised to provide “a safe harbor” for LGBTQI+ clergy.   OK, let me stop and ask a really important question: I though the Bishops were supposed to stand up for our denomination and our discipline, not violate it.   Besides, where do they get the authority to violate the established discipline of the UMC?   If I did it, I’d be out of a job!

In a recent interview Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky stated the following: “We make this statement out of a position of conscience with the clear affirmation that we don’t think the church has the authority or the power to limit the way God works in people’s lives.”  

I agree!    I don’t think we have the right to try and limit the way God works either, but I also don’t think we have the right to change what God has communicated.   He’s God, we’re not!   We don’t have the right to change Gods Word, its meaning, its context regardless of how hurtful or exclusive we find it in 21st Century culture.   Don’t get me wrong, I love all people, and wrestle with what to accept and what not to, but I believe that for the church to manipulate God’s Word for what “it” sees as how God “wants” to work in people’s lives is just plain wrong.   If God can create the universe by His will alone, if God can create life from dirt, if God can create a woman from a rib and if God knows how many hairs I have on my head at this particular moment, then I don’t have a problem with Him authoring a set of text and publishing them in the Bible, in fact, I see it as quite easy for the almighty!

All that being said, it doesn’t resolve a thing.   My opinion verses your opinion.   So where will it all end?   It appears that 2020 is going to continue to be a year plastered with strife.   There will be arguments, people violating rules and church law, and yet we wonder why the church seems to be so disjointed and ineffective.   This coming year promises to be a year of church disaffiliation with the UMC and continued struggles.   In my lifetime, I’ve never seen the Christian church in such need!   Let’s all pray and ask God for the wisdom and attitude of heart to get through this as faithful witness for Christ.

Remember, its not about right or wrong, its about what God has ordained.   Its not about what I want or think really, its about God’s responsibility to make His creation aware of what He says is holy and what is unacceptable.   Especially since He is holding us accountable to live as holy a life as possible.   Again, I ask you, pray with me for God’s resolution to this dilemma!