Spring has sprung and the church season of Easter is calling up resurrection life everywhere. Central Church was busting with this life on Easter Sunday as over 1100 people attended worship services. The Easter message reminds us that Christ is alive and on the move; empowering his people, the church, to be signs of resurrection life. Forgiveness and love, mercy, justice and peace-making in Jesus’ name, are important signs of a resurrection-shaped life. Christ’s cross and resurrection tell how this new life emerges.
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” In other words God’s love in Jesus has the power to transform us. We can say “no” (die) to the lesser self and lesser world and say “yes” to the new self and new world Christ has brought to life. Then Christ (love) lives in us.
I have been mindful lately of how life comes out of death. How Christ lives in this world and in you and me. When our daughter Chloe died on March 20th, we felt death’s sting and all the anguish that goes with it. We are still working through that pain and will be for some time. But we are also being carried by Christ’s presence and love through this. It is no small thing to experience that; and here’s what I mean. It is human to want to control the experience of death and grief. To hold on to it like it’s your very own thing and no one else can get it or have it. Some of that is OK, natural. But I have found that Christ doesn’t let that isolation get out of hand. Christ who lives in the world (not up in heaven) is relentless about pulling people out of death, out of loneliness and pain. He doesn’t leave you alone.
You have been The Christ to our family. You have pulled us out of our pain tenderly and just enough so that we could breathe again and find some light. That is no small thing. That is the gospel in action. That is Christ. Thank you for everything: Your prayers and messages, kind words and cards, gifts and meals; thank you for the look of compassion in your eyes and your hugs; thank you to our many gifted staff and leaders who daily keep Central moving forward; thank you for being the body of Christ. It has been said: “Sorrow eats time. Be patient. Time eats sorrow.” Ours is a season of patience and trust.
I do want you to know of something important: The leaders of our congregation are charting Central’s Way Forward through this time of change in our United Methodist denomination. Our Church Council wants you to know that because of our denomination’s decision to retain and enforce harmful language and law toward LGBTQ persons, we will step up our efforts to name our welcome and acceptance toward these neighbors. Remember: “Christ who lives in the world (not up in heaven) is relentless about pulling people out of death, out of loneliness and pain. He doesn’t leave you alone.” We will not leave our gay neighbors alone when they need us.
Pastor Chris and I will be sending a letter to the congregation shortly with more information about how Central will stand up for inclusion in the days ahead. This will include what it could mean for Central to be a Reconciling Congregation.
Several forums have been planned to share information that can help us understand the scriptural, theological and practical expressions for becoming a fully inclusive congregation.
May 8 – Scripture: Scriptural Basis for Inclusion. Presented by Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann.
May 15 – Theology: Toward a theology of inclusion. Presented by Rev. Dean Francis.
May 22 – Practice: What is it like to be a reconciling congregation? Presented by Sue Halsey and Rev. Dean Francis.
Below is a link to an important and informative update written by Rev. Adam Hamilton. Please read it so you know of the effort taking place to craft a new Centrist/Progressive Methodism. You can read the article here.
“Without Death There is No Resurrection.” May we all embrace the possibilities of love given to us in Jesus Christ. For love is the way of the Savior and love is the law of our Lord.
See you in Church.