Jesus said that he came so people “could live life to the fullest.” - John 10:10 (CEB)
Come with me on a year of Crossing Over to LIFE, beginning with Advent, December 2, 2018.
The journey begins as Brian McLaren leads us on a year-long exploration on the bible and faith in his book, We Make the Road by Walking. I hope that across the Greater Northwest many of you will gather in small groups for this study, but you can do it as an individual if a group isn’t possible for you. I hope you will invite people from across generations and cultures, and from outside as well as inside the church — maybe family members or friends who are curious-but-not-committed to Christian faith. I hope that together we can explore and discover new ways to respond to the challenges we face in our lives, in the Church, the nation and the world.
Each week, in 3-4 pages, McLaren invites us to revisit biblical principles for living. You’ll receive blog posts to expand your study, with reflections and prayers and a place for comments and conversation. As we journey together, we’ll add opportunities for conversation, further study and action.
In her post for the Greater NW Area CrossOver year study, Rev. Jenny Smith shares a personal story of reconciling with pain. She shares that Christ followers are invited to this important work, to write new stories that bring healing and new life.
Because United Methodists are stuck. Fifty years ago, in 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church became The United Methodist Church (UMC). In 1972 the new Church wrote “social principles” to guide our engagement and witness in the world. Ever since, we have disagreed about human sexuality. Should the Church accept and bless sexual relations that do not conform to the standard of monogamous heterosexual marriage? Should the Church welcome into fellowship and leadership and ordain persons who are “self-identified homosexuals?”(BOD ¶304.3, ¶2702.1(b)) What does the Bible say? How do we discern God’s will for our time and the places of our ministries?
People with strong convictions on both sides have left the church. Others continue to fight for the soul of the UMC. Still others have just become weary of the conflict. During the 2016 General Conference in Portland, this conflict boiled over into angry protests and chaotic outbursts. A Commission was formed to chart a Way Forward for our church that would loosen the bonds of conformity within the UMC to allow space for a wider diversity of belief and practice regarding human sexuality.
A Special General Conference of the Church is called for February 2019 to decide what The United Methodist Church will look like in the future. By the end of 2019 we will have been stuck in our disagreement for over 47 years.
The following resources are being provided to complement the CrossOver Year study of Brian McLaren's book, We Make the Road by Walking."
People hunger and thirst for food, and drink and a life-giving word. People sleep in doorways, submit to the tyranny of addiction, and suffer from physical and emotional abuse. And God is speaking to the Church to send us out to engage with the real lives of the people in the Church and outside it, with hope, generosity, companionship, justice.
No matter what happens at the General Conference, God needs us to get involved in the needs of the people we serve in our neighborhoods and around the world. NOW. We don’t have to wait passively for the General Conference to decide. We don’t have to remain stuck. We can choose life right now. We can prepare ourselves for whatever comes. We can turn to God and to one another and step out into the communities we serve in life-affirming ways. We can prepare to CrossOver to Life a season of renewal.
What if, at the end of 2019, we loved God more deeply, knew neighbors we never knew before, and found ourselves struggling with what God’s love looks like in the lives of our neighbors and in our neighborhood? That would be something to behold!
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky