The Source of Promise
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Philippians 3:17 – 4:1
“Humans are meant for stargazing.” Now that is a statement that I can agree with. When Todd and Jennifer Pick introduce this week’s scripture readings in our UMC Discipleship series “With All Your Heart,” they invite us all to gaze upward and outward into the majestic creation of a very generous God.
The Picks suggest that while looking upward, we aspire to be the people God created us to be. Looking upward we long to know the source of our promise and to find that guiding star along the way of our faith journey.
Now I am not an expert stargazer. Some of you are certainly much more qualified to name the constellations and to recognize the ancient patterns in the sky. But this I know, when I look up into the brilliance of our galaxy – I see God.
This summer, Laura and I will join my brother and sister-n-law in a week-long Harris Grands Camp as adult chaperones and guides for Sydney, Landon, Luna, Hannah, Layla, and Nathan. Our great-nieces and nephews are a lot of fun when they are gathered together. And for a week without their parents, my brother, their grand-daddy, encourages them to be adventurous.
My camp assignment among others for this summer is to bring them closer to the stars in the sky. I believe that is my brother’s code for ‘do your preacher thing in a way that brings them to know more of God.’ So, I began to think about an adventurous experience with God for six children under the age of nine. And of course, utilizing a large blanket, a dark sky, and some stories of promise from old uncle Pop.
That is my context in approaching today’s scripture readings. What does our family have to say about God? And more to the point, what do we have to say about the promise of God in our children and grandchildren?
So join me in the preparation as we examine the readings for today. And join us Sunday in worship at Hunt United Methodist Church.
I am a United Methodist Pastor. And today it is more difficult to be a moderate (some would call me a centrist) in our denomination.
This week included a major international conference of United Methodist delegates called into session in St. Louis to consider A WAY FORWARD for the denomination regarding the church laws on human sexuality. A very close vote yielded legislation for the larger UMC connection that keeps current language in our Book of Discipline. It prohibits same gender weddings in UM churches and prohibits ordination of LGBTQIA+ persons.
Some would now consider the vote to have settled the matter. In fact, the vote 53% - 47%, most likely makes life in the connection very uncertain for the foreseeable future.
I feel the pain of friends and colleagues, of parishioners, who had hoped that UMC legislation would allow more contextual and regional interpretation of this issue. In other words, many hoped for a solution of BOTH / AND. That solution would have allowed progressive churches and pastors to move forward with same gender church weddings and progressive annual conferences to approve ordination of LGBTQIA+ persons into the clergy of the UMC. At the same time, traditionalist churches and pastors in the USA and overseas could retain the practice of heterosexual marriage and ordination according to their interpretation of scripture.
I must admit. I am a pragmatist. While loyal to the denomination and its legislative process and its Book of Discipline, I also believe that we can find ways to seek BOTH / AND instead of EITHER / OR. I wait to see what other leading centrists decide to do in light of the UMC General Conference of 2019.
My efforts to prepare for this Sunday and preaching on the Transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:28-36) have been difficult. I long to make the mountain-top journey with Jesus and to experience the brilliance of the glory of God. And yet, I know that the work of my calling leads me back down the mountain into the valleys and level ground of life in a local community.
I pray that God's love and mercy shall continue to travel in all directions and impact all of God's people. And I ask you to be kind to one another in the coming days.
Grace and Peace
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend