“What Are We Fighting For?” A Book Review

WAWFF Tom BickertonHow many LGBTQ people are in the interesting photograph depicting the church on the cover of “What Are We Fighting For? Coming Together Around What Matters Most” by Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton? Seriously, I included an image of the cover. Take a look and count them.

Trick question. You can’t.

Because if they are there, they are people mixed in with the rest of the “motley crew” that makes up the church.

Then again, how many times does Bishop Bickerton (a Bishop in the United Methodist Church) mention the issues around LGBTQ people, facing his (and my) denomination?

Another trick question because unless I really, really missed it, these issues are not referenced in this book. The title alone was enough to make this reader think that these things would be mentioned. It seems to be one of the main issues our branch of Christianity is in conflict about these days. Like I said, I thought it would be mentioned. But it is not.

And truthfully, I’m glad. That is probably the most genuine and genius accomplishment of “What Are We Fighting For.” The author manages to talk about what lies behind or underneath the issues that are causing conflict rather than the specific issues. (Yes, he does bring up a few specifics, but I will let the reader get to those and make their own judgement about how it fits into the rest of his argument.) The author is then able to call us as United Methodist Christians to a higher place of talking about what threatens the unity of the church – our loss of the primary vision of being a people who can “restore order and focus in the church and throughout the world with a faith that many call naïve and out of touch.” (page 133)

In the days of Trump v. Cruz v. Kasich and Clinton v. Sanders (along with inevitable sequel); In the days of ISIS v. the western world; in the days of environmentalists v. coal industry; in the days of…well, I hope you get the picture. In these days of division and heated division, this Bishop calls us to take a journey that few want to travel. He calls us to a journey with one another as “Children of God” rather than any other label we would like to place on others or ourselves. Children of God…working together for Jesus’ Kingdom…that is the calling Bishop Bickerton brings to our memory.

Some will probably want to digitally or otherwise crucify the author for failing to speak boldly about their cause. I have a feeling that will be just fine – the One the author call us to follow on the journey had a similar problem.

I won’t spoil your journey with this book more than that by quoting or giving more examples. I do, however, encourage you to read it. (I even recommend it to other Children of God not of the branch of United Methodism.)

Bishop Bickerton’s ability to use scripture, story, history, theology and nuance of language so well, makes this a clever and enjoyable journey to a better place.

A Challenge from Our Bishop

God still speaks!

A prayer challenge from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball to the
West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
excerpted from Bishop Steiner Ball’s sermon on 10/13/12

“West Virginia and Garrett County members of the West Virginia Conference I am challenging you to join me in intentionally building that God connection. While most of us have morning or evening daily devotions, I am inviting you into something different.

Every day at or around noon we either think about or take a lunch break.  So here is my challenge:  Join me at lunch time in conversation/prayer with God.

Ask these two questions:

Where have I seen Christ at work in the last 24 hours and in what ways can I or the church partner with or support that work?

In the last 24 hours where has God been at work and I missed it, walked right by, failed to hear God’s voice, failed to turn aside?

And end that prayer time by asking God to give you the eyes of Christ, the ears of Christ, and the courage of Christ to risk faithful acts and actions in this world.

If you have 15 minutes for lunch – whether you eat or not – try to stop and pray on these things for at least 1 to 2 minutes.  If you have 30 minutes – then try at least 2 to 3 minutes, if you have an hour, try to pray on these things for 5 to 6 minutes. Prayer is powerful and to practice this communally will put each of us and our congregation more in touch with God’s will and action, and we will be better able to hear God’s voice.”

God still speaks!

This is a challenge I intend to take up from our Bishop!  Will you join me??