Also, much time was spent on our still unfolding conversation about inclusion of LGBT people in the church. Ephesians was the focus of our week of study. Ephesians is a book that stresses the unity of the church - but it also contains a verse that many use to exclude LGBT people from the church. The struggle for church unity was very real: one church was preparing to vote about remaining in Allegheny Conference or not, even though the pastor had deeply hoped they would be able to stay in relationship.
The conversations were deep and insightful and passionate. Very real wrestling was being done - as we tried to envision what unity is supposed to look like in the midst of theological diversity. We heard stories from pastors who wanted to hold the Conference and Denomination together, but faced angry congregations unable to see that as a faithful option.
...and the Spirit moved amongst us. As we read Ephesians we heard echoes of the forces that divide Christians against each other - 2000 years ago. The struggle was very real then, and it is now. They argued about food, and about circumcision just as we argued about head coverings and women in leadership.
I was left feeling like all the struggle the church has faced and is currently facing - is part of the work of the Holy Spirit of God. As we step into Pentecost - and try to hear the Spirit’s guidance for the church, I felt the wind blowing as it will (John 3:8). It seems that God is constantly teaching and instructing the church. We want to get settled in, figure it all out and get it set in stone. But God keeps moving. We want to sing the same songs forever, but God moves musicians to write new music. If we are able - we hold on for the ride, and pray that we can hear that still small voice of God in our midst as God unveils the next new thing. We see God do new things amongst and within us - the Wind of God filling our sails and giving us eyes to see and ears to hear.
May you hear the Spirit in your life during this Holy time of Pentecost. God’s peace and strength to you!
- Bob Brown, Pastor