I SEE A NEW CHURCH, part 2 Oct. 2019

I See A New Church Part 2
Pastor’s Ponderings – Oct. 2019
John Wesley wrote, “though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” We are in a season of “seeing a new church,” but in all ways this visioning should be guided by the love of God.
To see a new church or a new community of faith is to have vision and insight. It is a brave act to trust God’s promptings and to trust that you are hearing God. The work of visioning is the work of God’s faithful people. Stories of brave people who vision are all over the scriptures. Noah had a vision of a boat and how to gather God’s creatures on the boat. Abraham and Sarah had a vision of a great people. Isaiah and Jeremiah and Micah had visions that challenged injustice. Zachariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph all had visions of children who would grow up to save people.
The work of seeing should come with a caution. It is truly only work for people who are brave and understand that things aren’t always going to be easy. God doesn’t promise a smooth path. The book of Revelation at the end of the Bible depicts some amazing visions. The author, John, conveys brutality and mystery, as well as hope and redemption. The book is written to the seven churches that were in Asia Minor, to strengthen the faith of the members. The goal was to offer assurance that the goodness of God would deliver them from the evil powers of the world. In the midst of challenge and evil, somewhere, somehow, God reminds us of God’s steadfast promise of this eternal relationship.
Our connection of United Methodists in Southern California and throughout the West are in a season of visioning and listening for God’s revelation about what is next. Our Bishop, Rev. Grant Hagiya, has invited all the churches of our region to discuss our vision for the future. I’ve invited the Church Council to give feedback and the entire congregation will be invited to a multi-church meeting on October 26th to share too. (Watch for more of this information later.) Last month I shared guiding questions from our Bishop. This month I want to share some thoughts for Rev. Adam Hamilton, the founding pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City.
Rev. Hamilton shared his vision for a new church in his regular blog from September 18, 2019. Hamilton writes, “My hope is that the next United Methodism removes the language and policies that exclude, harm, or alienate LGBTQIA persons and their friends and family. I pray that we make room for faithful, thoughtful, compassionate, and caring United Methodists who may disagree, drawing upon the spirit of Wesley who said, ‘though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?’ I hope for a United Methodist Church where my children’s generation (millennials) and my granddaughter’s generation no longer shake their heads wondering how a church whose central ethic is love continues to practice what they perceive as bigotry and discrimination against their LGBTQ friends.” Rev. Hamilton presents the centrist view of leadership in our church making space for all people.
I confess, this is a hard conversation to have. I grew up with the understanding that polite conversation demands we talk about the weather and avoid politics and religion at all costs. Maybe you find it hard too. Even though our congregation has members who hold many different views on human sexuality and what the bible says about it, we have worked to focus on mission and fellowship and acting in faithfulness. We’ve held the work of God before us. In so many ways we truly exemplify John Wesley’s call to ‘love alike,’ even as we don’t agree. I trust you will continue to be a model of looking into the future, with our eyes on Jesus’ work, and have the hard conversations we must have because of the time we are living through.
I’m so excited for the continued conversation about the next part of the building, and the powerful ministry and mission YOU have in your future! It is an amazing time to be at Vista as you truly serve as a model of generosity, compassion and focus!
Pastor Leigh Ann Shaw

Leave a Reply