This is the blog post I promised a couple of days ago! That's one of the things about this General Conference--we have so little time to get so much done, and we are all averaging 4 hours of sleep a night!
There have been many painful discussions at this General Conference. In the subcommittee I observed, I watched one of those painful discussions. Here are some of the things I wrote when I was watching (my commentary from later is in parentheses).
I wish we prayed more in the committees and subcommittees. (I understand from some of the other delegates that there was a good deal more praying than I observed in my committee in some of the other committees...)
I like the fact that each sub-committee has to come up with a rationale for its decision. This seems to be the most difficult of the work of the Conference. (After making a decision about every petition, the committee or sub-committee has to come up with a written rationale--which means there's got to be reasoning and some kind of basis for each decision. I like that because many people take time to write petitions and they each deserve measured consideration. It would be easy, as I've said, to dismiss many of them, but we can't dismiss anyone--an important point for United Methodists.)
There is a degree of pain sharing here that is deeply vulnerable. What healing could come out of sharing our pain openly instead of yelling at each other or fighting? Can people truly listen to the pain of others here without agenda?
What stories are behind this discussion? I see many stories flashing across their faces.
If the theme of the General Conference is A Future With Hope, what hope are we trying to embody in making these decisions? Where is the "hope language" in the rationale?
There are many people conflicted by all that they read in scripture. Do we read in a vacuum? Do we read with a specific lens in mind? How do we discuss issues with people who read through a different lens? Are some lenses "better" than others?
I hear people struggling with the different stories in their own lives. They can't quite reconcile those stories with what they are hearing and what they believe. How could the church respond and help people try to work through integrating all the stories of their lives with the story of scripture?
This really is a wacky group for God to call together. If I trust that the Holy Spirit worked in the elected process, quite frankly, what was God thinking? (I have this thought a lot when I look at the church--God this week is a strange comedian.)
Now we return to current commentary:
Have you ever been in a study group with people who thought differently from you, either because they came out of a different worldview or a different background? How did you react when your views were challenged? What did you think about when you were challenging someone else's views?
We are doing work that will affect people's lives. We need much prayer.