Hee Haw. That’s what the church looks like and sounds like to me sometimes – the TV show, “Hee Haw”:
In case you missed it, the lyrics go like this:
Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom despair and agony on me
As you may have seen on my last post, I have just attended the yearly meeting of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. I stand by the last post that celebrates our progress. And now I want to balance that out with a call to move forward with power and not fall back.
While it is true I saw and heard many good things at Annual Conference, I also heard much despair. There was the gloom of the statistical report showing how bad things have gotten for the UMC. There was agony over the real and/or perceived imbalance in the elected slate of delegates for the General Conference (you can see an explanation of the UMC structure here). There was wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the lack of real attention to the younger clergy we say we want to see engaged. And there was suspicion of “those” other people coming from all sides.
I understand the angst. There have been some real issues in the church and around the church for many years. However, I see so much progress being made. I listened to a young female preacher who captivated me with her sermon on the last day – no easy feat when everyone is just waiting to go home. I had intentional conversations with people who see things differently than I do. And I had a chance to listen to Reverend Adam Hamilton of the UM Church of the Resurrection.
Adam Hamilton said that he believes that our best days are ahead of us. Check that, he said he chooses to believe our best days are ahead of us. He made the point that faith is not knowing something is true but choosing to believe it is true. Some of my colleagues in other churches wouldn’t care for the idea that we choose to believe, but we do. We choose to believe in Jesus and we choose to follow him, or not. Making that choice should make all the difference.
If we choose to believe Jesus is who he says he is, then we find the power of the Holy Spirit is in us and will work through us. If we choose to believe that Jesus is who he, and the Church historic, says he is, then we can see better days ahead of us. This Jesus healed the sick, cured the lame, gave sight to the blind, and changed futures. This Jesus was dead and God raised him up to new life, and now he gives that new life to us. We are Resurrection people (guess Hamilton’s church name is apropos).
We choose to believe (based on the witness of many) that God has the power to give new life to the lame, the blind, the deaf, and even the dead. Since we choose to believe that, why do we focus on our despair? Why does the angst of our present trump the hope of God’s ability to change our future?
Despair is a poor motivator. To focus on and moan about the muck and the mire of our current state keeps us from seeing the rope being thrown to us from beyond the muck. Jesus stands strong promising that he will pull us out and set our feet on solid ground. That hope must be our focus.
Hope is the greatest of motivators. Yes, there will be set backs. Yes, there will be some who try to push us back into the muck. But there is one who cannot be defeated for he has overcome all obstacles, even death.
Adam Hamilton is right. When we choose to believe that our best days are ahead of us, then we will be better able to focus on the One pulling us out, rather than on the muck that, for the moment, holds us back. When we choose to believe we can keep surging ahead and not begin to fall back.
Let’s see if I can rewrite the lyrics a bit (you have to sing to the same tune as the Hee Haw song you read):
Joy, God’s grace, and new life, my belief
Real resurrection will be my true relief
If it weren’t for Jesus I’d have no hope at all
Joy, God’s grace, and new life, I believe
(A bit hokey, I know. But hey, I’ve got to be me!)
Let’s choose to believe. Better yet, let’s choose to live our life like we believe. Even at church meetings.
Holy high-five to you,