As I look to the new year I am filled with both anticipation and anxiety with what will be coming before the congregation. I have great anticipation because we have leadership taking new responsibilities. Our priesthood are going through a process of discerning how God has gifted them to bring ministry to the congregation. We have a group of people who are willing to reach out to others. Our congregation is filled with potential and plenty of opportunities.
So what’s my anxiety? Well, during this coming year we will face several challenging issues. Discerning how Christ calls us to respond in a way that imitates while living in a culture that fosters division, discord, and polarity will be a major task. Part of this process involves determining how much we have already been drawn into the cultures way of thinking. This is enough in itself. In addition to this, however, as a worldwide church we will be dealing with the issues of conditions of membership (re-baptism) and the role homosexuals can take in the church. Both of these issues are difficult and can be divisive.
Resolving issues regarding the roles homosexuals can take in the church tends to result in emotional responses. I believe this will be the more divisive issue. Maybe it would be easier to ignore it. But, really, haven’t we done that long enough? Isn’t it time we face the issue and come to a resolution?
During this next year several people from our congregation will be working together to provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the issues revolving around this topic. I hope members of the congregation will take advantage of these opportunities to learn, listen, and share. Perhaps this issue, like no other, will test our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Other churches and congregations have been shattered. Will ours?
If we are to maintain unity as Christ-followers we must keep the Cradle and the Cross close to our hearts. If we don’t, I fear we will end up like the rest of our society – divided. Keeping these two symbols close to our hearts will help us draw close together as God’s people. They remind us to live out hope, peace, joy, love, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation in our lives and our relationships. What an example of God’s Reign that would be. I know it will not be easy. Actually it will be really tough. We will all be challenged. But if God brought new life out of death, which I believe God did, then through God’s grace we can resolve the challenges we will face.
As we enter into a new year may we rely on the Holy Spirit to bring us together. May we remember during the toughest times that God is faithful! May we keep the Cradle and the Cross close to our hearts!