There are a lot of tweets (#gc2012), Facebook postings and blogs all centering around one thing - the "atmosphere of fear" that is surrounding General Conference this year. I hear it - and I wonder if it is something to put our energy into or if we ourselves are throwing the gasoline on the fire.
They are in committee this morning - last night was the evening plenary with a wonderfully produced and heartfelt presentation by Adam Hamilton. I've heard him called "mega-church" pastor Adam Hamilton, as if the word "mega-church" is somehow equated to "anti-Christ." Ridiculous put that way, eh? It was obvious to me watching last night and watching again this morning that Rev. Hamilton loves this church - and he want it to survive not just because he loves the institution so much but because he love the people and he has a heart for those unchurched. The tool he's advocating is the Bishop's CTA (Call to Action) which has garnered it's own share of hate-speech last night and this morning.
There has been such a visceral reaction to his address and support because we are frightened by change. I would add that perhaps there is another tool we can use - another advocated by people at General Conference and that would be discipling. Growing and maturing Christian in this faith that we declare leads to life eternal.
Words have power - let us monitor our words so that we don't lose the love we have for one another in Christ Jesus. The word I would have for Adam Hamilton is "Thank You." You have been a leader in this church and I thank you for the love you have for the people of the United Methodist Church. The other word I would have for him is this: can we be in conversation?
The tweets I read last night were damaging. If I had read them as a person to whom they were directed, I think I would have been devastated to think that my message was so misread. As we go into committees, please be in prayer for all those delegates who will be debating if our "shalls" should turn into "mays" or if our "mays" be turned into "shalls." Words have power.
May the Word of God keep up and sustain us; may the Word made flesh be with us; may the Word we speak be the Word eternal. Amen.