Read: Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
I’ve been following General Conference closely this week, it wrapped up yesterday and most of you have heard the outcome. The current stance in our Book of Discipline will remain, and some penalties have been added for pastors performing gay weddings and for leaders endorsing/ordaining otherwise qualified gay candidates for ministry. The Judicial Council has said that some of the provisions may not be constitutional with other parts of the UMBOD, so it will take some time to know the full implications of the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.
Startling is the depth of sadness that has resulted in the defeat of the One Church Plan that was endorsed by the Council of Bishops, and the selection of the Modified Traditionalist Plan. Those United Methodists who are part of the LGBTQ community are in pain, and no one should rejoice in the suffering of another. Few of us have ever felt rejected, despised, and condemned simply because of who we are. The wording in the Disciple from 1972, that “Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” is archaic, as nearly half of General Conference does not agree with that statement. Obviously sincere, dedicated, Christian leaders disagree on this matter, and so do members of any given church in our denomination.
A low point occurred when someone suggested that LGBTQ persons should be drowned. That is hateful, that is not the love of Christ at work in the body of Christ. It led to counter accusations and inflammatory rhetoric, and those moments of Christian conferencing did not honor Jesus Christ. Our denomination will lose some who feel that the church has betrayed the principle of grace in favor of judgment. And our denomination will lose some who feel the church is betraying the Bible by even considering LGBTQ issues. Both reactions miss important subtleties that are important to love, faith, grace, and being part of the Body of Christ.
To all I would remind us that God is bigger than the institutional church. The church is fallible, and it will let us down at times. God, in Jesus Christ, is the One we worship, and Who will not let us down. God is near us when we are brokenhearted. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Shalom, Pastor Rob