Given the rare gift of a snow day I have more time to reflect than I have had of late and I want to affirm something that many people have asked me over the last ten years or so.
I was not born into a family of United Methodist’s. The person who influenced me the most in my spiritual walk was my Grandmother Sadie Ellen Colvin Morrow.
Sadie Ellen Colvin Morrow (1897-1992) My grandmother didn’t know about drawing wide circles or rainbows, she never used the words, open and affirming, or reconciling. She didn’t need to. The gospel that she instilled in me, is what gave me the conviction that there has only been one man that had ever walked the face of this earth that was worthy of being a judge of any other. Additionally, that Man is no longer here, He is seated at the Right Hand of our Creator God and it is only because of His sacrifice that we are saved by Grace, and that we can not earn it , nor can we deny it to any one, in as much as He has done this for one, it was done for all.
I was raised in a grace filled home but my Grandmother attended a church where righteous indignation reigned supreme and where there was no room for Grace. It was exactly that juxtaposition between what I heard at home and what I heard in the pulpit that instilled in me a desire to reconcile the two.
What did I hear God calling me to preach, when I made the decision to actually follow up on this calling ten years ago? I had a lot of education in front of me at that point and not very much under my belt but I knew then, just as surely as I do today that I have been called to preach Wesleyan Grace. It was not only Wesleyan Grace that convinced me that I needed to be United Methodist however, it was also John Wesley’s Holy Temper. A Holy Temper is not righteous indignation, a Holy Temper, is a Christ like temperament. These are described by Paul in the Galatians 5 ” the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
When it comes down to preaching the Gospel however the denomination of the ordination that I will seek matters less than the message of Jesus Christ. In fact most the differences in theology matter much much less than we sometimes think they do.
What matters is what we are called to do, and that call is not from a Theologian, it is from God. It is in the Gospel message of Christ over and over, that we are called to love one another, we are given the ability to do this not because of anything that we can do alone, but Because GOD loved us, we can therefore love each other.
From 1 John 4 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
God is made complete in us!
That is our highest ideal, that is what perfection means. Can we obtain perfection while here in our earthly bodies? We are called upon to try.
I want to say that while I continue to work for change within a system that does not always live up to its highest ideals of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors” That I do recognize that those ARE our highest ideals!
It will be those ideals that I have in mind when I am asked before God if I will work to move on toward perfection in THIS lifetime; and when I reply “YES, with the HELP OF GOD” I will remember that I choose to follow this path and I choose to preach from this tradition and it is because of God’s Grace ALONE, that I can do anything that I do.
So, yes I will continue to be a United Methodist, a Reconciling United Methodist, and I will not allow those who can speak louder than I can be the only voices that represent a Church, and a tradition that I have grown to love and has taught me what love is.
I will not forget that while we may be working for change within a tradition that shares love, grace and mercy, that there are those who haven’t known any at all, and it is for them that the risk is greatest and the cost is highest. Yes I am an ally, and I will be not be silent.