Confession: I doodle while other people are talking. Don’t deny it, you have done it, too. Several years ago, someone told me we learn more when our hands are busy creating something. It’s given me permission to doodle and to create while other people are talking. Honestly, I do listen better when I am creating something.
This week, when I found myself in a convention center ballroom with no table in front of me, I took up another task: creating images on my phone.
Confession 2: In a moment of messing around with my iPad, I accidentally took the picture above.
I don’t know what you see when you look at the above picture, but I see a cross immersed in light. I was sitting in a General Conference committee at the time this photo was taken.
Much of the news out of General Conference has been about arguments around human sexuality, silent protests, preaching, and politicking. In the room where I was sitting, the light of Christ was guiding conversation.
Conversations about theology, interpretation of scripture, and contextual realities occurred. I witnessed deep listening, challenging questions, and thoughtful reflection by delegates who disagreed on the issues being debated. And, yes, some of the issues were around human sexuality.
They engaged in a faithful process. And while at least one delegate acknowledged deep disappointment, his disappointment did not overshadow the process they engaged in together. There were no changes made to a rule book, but there was a positive change in relationships.
Perhaps what we need more than a legislative process, is a process to renew our commitment to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Perhaps what we need is to focus on being and becoming grace-filled Christ followers who put faith into action.
The best question I heard asked in three days in a committee room was this: “Will it help or hinder us in making disciples and transforming the world?” Now, there’s a question with missional impact. In the end, I witnessed 71 disciples (nope, not 72) in one convention center ballroom that gave me reason to thank God for the United Methodist Church.
Yes, there was disappointment from at least one delegate because the decision did not support changes in the sections of The United Methodist Book of Discipline that referenced homosexuality. However, the disappointment was tempered by the spirit of Christ that surrounded the room. There was a step of faith that occurred in one convention center ballroom that reflected both the love and light of Christ.
The individuals in the room were thoughtful, articulate, and faithful leaders of the church who approached their differences through the faith that has formed them. They reflected our Wesleyan theological heritage as it is embodied across the globe while holding one another before God, as brothers and sisters in Christ. While the 71 people in the committee are only a portion of the delegates, they are leading the way by embodying their faith in both word and deed.
That was the circumstance that created the space for me to do a little post-modern doodling on my phone. When I accidentally snapped the above picture, I had before me a quote from Reinhard Bonnke,
“Faith is a leap into the light, not a step into the darkness.”
The picture, was a picture of the ceiling in the room where I was seated. Some call it a coincidence, others call it a wink from God, you may even call it a God moment. Yes, even at General Conference. Even in a committee session. Even as an observer.
Confession 3: Wherever God takes me, sends me, and leads me, the light of Christ is always there waiting for me to take note and follow. Maybe, just maybe, we will seek to live as grace-filled Christ followers. And maybe, we will notice the many ways the cross of Christ is shining overhead. When we do, the faith we have in Jesus Christ will guide us toward a “leap into the light.”