We made several significant changes to Launch & Lead during our redesign a few years ago. We were particularly excited about the possibilities created by hosting all fall and spring workshops at the same time and place. This meant that everyone participating in Launch & Lead would have the opportunity to meet and connect with everyone else, regardless of where they are in the process.
The dishes have dried. The crumbs and snippets of yarn have been swept up. The sticky notes have been tabulated. National Gathering 2019 is a snapshot; taken, shared, and finished. In that moment, at that place, we were the Missional Wisdom Foundation, gathered.
What happens when you gather a roomful of people who share a vision for Christian community, building bridges between peoples, and spiritual renewal? Potentially—anything!
A peek at the National Gathering 2019
From CBS This Morning
Declining attendance at America's churches has been a persistent trend in recent decades. Now some churches are taking a novel approach to keeping their doors open by renting out otherwise empty space during the usually quiet midweek. Omar Villafranca reports.
As we have journeyed through lent together, we have only seen the backs of people’s heads in our images. Their faces have been left unseen by us. They have walked on away from us into the unknown, leaving us to ponder and ask, “Who are they? Where are they going? What are their names? What might it be like to see their face?”
There is something deep in the naming of a child. My husband and I have named five children, and not once did we do so lightly. We scoured baby-name books, made sure the middle names fit phonetically with the first names, screened favorite names for unfortunate meanings, and, even after all that, my hand shook as I wrote each new name down on the blue birth certificate form. After all, our names shape us.
This is week five. We are more than half way through our Lenten Journey, and I am hearing the rustling of plans.
Are you coming here for Easter? What should we eat? Do the kids have new outfits? Shoes? Easter baskets?
Easter isn't here yet, but it is close enough to be nudging its way in.
In the British science fiction show, Doctor Who, the Doctor is a Time Lord who can cheat death by a process called regeneration. He (and now she!) has been played by thirteen actors, allowing Doctor Who to be tv’s longest running sci fi program. With each new regeneration, the Doctor takes an episode to get reacquainted with the new body, new personality, and new preferences. Usually in the midst of a high stress, world-saving dilemma, while using that top-notch brain to devise a clever solution, the Doctor is in the midst of the chaos, figuring out who s/he is now.
To wrestle is to claim our place in God’s creation,
Because all of God’s creation wrestles...
The seed with the earth
The butterfly with the cocoon
The child with the parent
This past summer, I left my beloved community at the Bonhoeffer House to move to Wichita, Kansas. As I said goodbye to my friends and family to go to a new place, I noticed a recurring question rising up within me, “Will I be able to make any friends in this new place?” After years of having a strong community around me, I was afraid that I would be alone and lonely…Why is it that we are afraid of being alone?
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #13
“Yet we trust that we can know more fully what is essential for our participation in God’s saving work in the world, and we are confident in the ultimate unfolding of God’s justice and mercy.” God is at work through us, here and now. We believe as a Methodist people that God is at work unfolding justice and mercy. As Methodist people, we live deeply in the assurance of God’s grace.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #12
In our commitment to fully engage with others, the Discipline asks us to bear witness to our faith as United Methodists within the one body of Jesus Christ. As Methodists, we are to be neighbors and witnesses to all others, whether they are like us or not. We are not to crush our relationships to the lowest common denominator but are to raise our relationships to the highest level of fellowship and understanding. If we are to do this with our Muslim brothers and sisters, are we not to do it with our brothers and sisters along the spectrum of human sexuality?
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #11
It is hard to read these words from 1972 and not see the reflection of #GC2019. The Discipline anticipates that it will be hard to address all of the theological issues that will arise in our global church. The world is more connected that it has ever been before, and the pressure of global awareness exposes problems that were hidden before. As a people of God, we are challenged to address social and personal injustice, and we are challenged to do so in the face of our global diversity.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #10
God gave us brains, and I am convinced that God intends for us to use them. From one perspective, humanity was blessed with reason to be able to carry God’s task of creation forward. Just as God calls us to be God’s hands and feet in service to others, God calls us to use our reason to co-create solutions and blessings for all those around us. We are more than simply caretakers—we are agents of God’s creative mercy and grace.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #9
Our life experience is entwined with our Christian experience. The fact that the Holy Spirit lives inside us shifts our entire perspective—Paul says it beautifully in Galatians 2:20 when he says that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives within him. Lived Christian experience changes the way we see scripture and the world around us. Our inner voice works with us to discern right from wrong.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #8
My favorite part of the paragraph on Tradition is the explicit recognition that sometimes we get it wrong. We work with the struggles and conclusions of those who have gone before us, fully acknowledging that, on occasion, they were wrong. That stance is grace-filled and reminds us that imperfections do not render a treasure valueless.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #7
Scripture is the primary source of our doctrine. We believe that scripture authentically reflects the ongoing nature of God’s interaction with creation and humanity in the past, the present, and the future. Scripture reveals the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a way that presents all that is necessary and sufficient for salvation. The Scripture reveals the ongoing action of the Holy Spirit in the world.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #6
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which is the technical name of the four-part method at the core of Methodist sources and criteria for evaluation of sources, lies at the heart of this section of the Discipline. Based on the work of Methodist theologian Albert Outler, the quadrilateral succinctly describes the approach that John Wesley took in defining, describing, and refining the theology of the Methodist people.
Thoughts on Our Theological Task #5
Our engagement with scripture, doctrine and theology has a practical purpose. Our theological reflection is to drive our daily activity and to inform the behavior of the Church. If we conclude through our reflection that God is love, we are called to test the truth of that statement by examining how that conclusion shapes our behavior in daily life. If the words and the music do not go together, we are not living into this interpretive stance. If we say we believe in love, but do not act in the world through love, then we are missing the practical purpose of our theology.