Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm here for an argument

Man: Ah. I'd like to have an argument, please.
Receptionist: Certainly sir. Have you been here before?
Man: No, I haven't, this is my first time.
Receptionist: I see. Well, do you want to have just one argument, or were you thinking of taking a course?
(Monty Python's Argument Sketch)

I've been thinking quite a bit about all that happened in Tampa during General Conference 2012.  I don't really think anything new happened.  We just had a nice course of 10 arguments for 8 pounds.  The same course of 10 that we had 4 years ago and 4 years before that and 4 years before that and so on. It gets to be rather predictable. And of course, some of the arguments are just plain contradiction by contrary people.

I get tired of the same arguments over and over again.  It gets to the point where I feel we can just play a tape and not truly engage with one another.  They are going to say *this* and then I will say *that* and that will cause them to say *this other thing* and I will counter with *another that*.

I could list the arguments I get tired of, as I am sure you could as well. I even get tired of the "2 space after a period" argument or the "em dash" argument.  Arguing, of course, is a hallmark for Methodists - and well, maybe even Americans.  "Everyone is entitled to their opinion" is tossed away before people are hit with the discount button.

I've been reading the text for the week and preparing my sermon (John 17:6-19.)  It's Jesus' prayer for the people of this world.  (Of course now comes the argument if it's Jesus' or Jesus's.) I have entitled it "In the World, Not Of It" (how many times has *that* sermon title been used?) I was getting along swimmingly (really) until I get to that phrase "so that they may be one, as we are one" and I have to take a step back.  What would it mean if all of us Christians in the world (much less us Methodists) were ONE as Christ and the Father are ONE?

And it's not harmony I'm talking about - that we all be the same texture and consistency (that would be bland, IMHO.)  I'm talking about how Jesus prays that we are ONE as the Trinity is ONE.  And that kind of blows my mind.  To be of one substance, of one accord.  Real and honest unity.  I don't think we would ever give up the arguing, except maybe it would be transformed into discourse.  But I think it would mean that we would have to really and truly engage with one another and lend to one another dignity and respect.  I think we might have to listen more than we talk.

Of course, I'm an idealist.  But if Jesus prayed it for this world, maybe I can. May we all be ONE as Jesus and the Creator are ONE.  So be it. Amen.

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