Those of you reading through the Bible in a year are in for a treat in a couple of weeks. Those of you who are not should avail yourself of this same treat. It is the reading of the little book “Esther,” between “Nehemiah" and “Job.” Esther is the heroin of the story, finding herself as Queen in the royal court of King Ahasuerus of Persia. Of note is the fact that Esther is Jewish and has hidden that fact. A Jewish pogrom is planned by the deep state to rid Persia of Jews.
Esther is on the horns of a dilemma, recognizing that she may well be exposed as Jewish. She also feels an obligation to head off the pogrom. Her uncle Mordecai, upon discussing the moral bind Esther is in, remarks, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this (4.15).” You’ll need to read this book to find out how it all ends.
We don’t often look for critical events that test our mettle, but sometimes, they look for us. We are in such a time.
A parishioner from a previous congregation sent me a letter this week. In it, she recounted how the GMC (Global Methodist Church) is actively proselytizing within UMC congregations, including hers. Sadly, while the wedge issue is human sexuality, the GMC is known to be making claims that the UMC will abandon its tradition and theological positions as it moves forward. The claim is basically, “if you want to save your soul, jump ship now.” As you might guess, the culture war has found itself at the forefront of the congregation. It seems inevitable that they will take a vote on disaffiliation from the UMC. The correspondent writes that there will be a “difficult time with hard feelings on both sides.” The tragedy of this breakup is discord on the order of that found in “Galatians.” The evil one must rejoice in our tearing our communion apart.
The breakup is inevitable. The UMC will survive as a welcoming, affirming denomination without regard to the potential pogrom being launched on the LGBTQ community. Like Esther, we find ourselves placed in “such a time as this.” So, here’s what we’re going to do: we’re moving forward as if the breakup has happened and we are part of the “new” UMC.
Toward that end, I am having a five-week study on United Methodism beginning in January. It will be good for you “old hands” to refresh yourselves regarding the UMC. It will be informative for you who are new to the UMC. This study will function as a new member class. I anticipate receiving new members at the conclusion of this study. Some have expressed reluctance at membership in the UMC until we get through the travail. I say, let’s move toward it instead of away from it. We have already modeled ourselves after the “new” UMC. Let’s begin to live into it in every aspect. As Paul says, “hope does not disappoint (Ro. 5.5a)."
In the meantime, we wait, we watch, we prepare in the season of Advent. We begin Sunday in a strange place, the little apocalypse of the synoptic gospels, from Matthew. Is there hope or despair as we await God’s action in history? Let’s talk. BTW, our Advent Study begins Sunday at 9:15 in the Cook Room.
See you Sunday,