Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life. After he said this, he breathed for the last time. Luke23:46
Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Luke 20:22
This morning the church I call home (or not quite home, depending on the moment in time) is waking up to the first day after our General Conference adopted a statement from our Council of Bishops on a way forward in the midst of great division.
There is much that I could say about this way forward our General Conference has adopted. I could go into detail about the division in our denomination – a division that on the surface appears to be focused on different opinions regarding the treatment of people with non-heterosexual identities – but is really about the interpretation of Scripture and the role of tradition in the life of the church today. However, I don’t want to focus on what is separating us. I prefer to talk about what the General Conference has called us to do now.
In a word, they have called us to breathe.
Some call it kicking the can down the road. Others call it an opportunity. (Once again, the difference over how the tradition of the church works in our lives today…) I want to call it this: a time to entrust our lives to God and a time to receive anew the Holy Spirit. I see this in powerful ways in the two passages above and I have been meditating on those since early yesterday afternoon. There is power in a breath. There is much that can happen when we pause.
Yes, I know this time of pause will be painful for many. My friends who call for a more conservative view of Scripture and Tradition are in pain over the church refusing to take a clear stand. My friends who are more progressive in their views of Scripture and Tradition are hurting because our current way of being church includes hurting people who are beloved children of God. Some friends who are in the middle of either of these extremes are finding themselves in pain as well – torn between loyalty to colleagues, exhausted from looking for a way to come together, and just plain out of breath from all the fighting.
But I am thankful today that our General Conference did a “holy” thing. They called on our Bishops to give direction. They have taken up the cross and followed that direction.
It won’t be easy. We may have to learn anew how to put our trust completely in God’s hands. We may find ourselves receiving breath from another to give us what we need.
But I, look forward with HOPE to this pause…