Imagine a Church Community Where...

By Rev. Cindy Marino

Imagine a church community where the premises listed below are practiced! 

These means to a “God-Soaked Life” summarize the book of that title by Chris Webb: 

1.  We accept Jesus’ invitation to participate in God’s community of love.

2.  We are seeking the renewal of our hearts so we can love as Christ loves.

3.  We are fearlessly honest about our weaknesses, failures, and limits.

4.  We long to experience God in silence, prayers, and Scripture.

5.  We nurture an awareness of God in everyday life.

6.  We share life together with love, grace, mercy, and reconciliation.

7.  We have the hope and courage to challenge the "lordless powers.”

We used Webb’s book as a resource during Lent as we attempted to make sense of Jesus’ call to live a life in God’s kingdom. As we studied each premise in turn, we found them to be both compelling and challenging. 

I found number seven to be particularly bothersome. 

We do our best to skirt the "political realm" in conversation with our faith. But Jesus is often described as a revolutionary figure. In fact, we know Jesus focused a great deal of time and attention on the reframing of the definition of power and challenging the status quo. How do we know when we should accommodate the change that disrupts our culture and when we should "challenge the lordless powers?'
 
There is only one way ... we pray.

In prayer, we present our dilemmas to God and we listen for a call to action. We study scripture to guide us. We confer with others in faith to assure us of what we are hearing in the Holy Spirit.

In prayer, we allow the Holy Spirit of God to form us into the image of Christ, seeing with His eyes, hearing with His ears, acting as His hands and feet and speaking out with His voice. 

I am so proud of our young people who chose to be confirmed in the United Methodist Church a few weeks ago. They did so with eyes wide open, writing in their essays how disappointed they were in the UMC’s General Conference decision to continue its discrimination against LGBTQIA, disallowing marriage in the church and ordination in the denomination. 

We are raising up young people to be open-minded thinkers and Christ-loving image bearers who are not afraid to pray and to follow the call they hear God placing upon their lives. We are teaching our young people to respond to God’s call, rather than to react against those who would think differently. Our welcome statement declares our inclusion of all, and we believe change will follow. 

There are many who are working diligently in the background to answer God’s call to bring change to this denomination. One such leader is Adam Hamilton. He and others have been meeting quietly with bishops and others to work through plans for the future of a church that includes all people. 

After Easter, we will take up Hamilton’s study on Simon Peter. After working through the meaning of the God-soaked life in God’s kingdom, we can follow the life of someone who was himself a "dilemma."

“Peter left everything to follow his teacher and possessed a passion that would change the world. That’s one way to describe him. Here’s another: poor, uneducated, quick-tempered, and full of doubts and fears. Doesn’t even sound like the same man.”

Hamilton brings us this example of Peter, who met the Risen Lord, challenged the "lordless powers," and changed the world. Along with Peter, we will find that with God, all things are possible for those who love Him and obey His call.

We pray for change that will address the hurt caused when anyone is considered to be "lesser than" for any reason. We pray for continued patience and wisdom as new plans emerge that safeguard the vital ministries of the global church and the financial well-being of the local churches, that they may continue to raise up leaders for Christ. 

We pray for a God-Soaked life for all.