Today, February 24, 2012, I received an e-mail with the following letter which it reports has been sent to United Methodist delegates of General Conference, 2012. That e-mail also references a statement entitled “For Love of God and Neighbor: A Common Witness to General Conference 2012, which I have signed and may be found at http://gc12.org/sign/love-of-god-and-neighbor-statement/.
Dear United Methodist Church Leaders:
The General Conference briefings in Tampa, Zimbabwe, and the Philippines provided delegates and church leaders time to explore the vital issues that will be under consideration at General Conference. As disciples of Jesus Christ, together we seek to embody God’s love and justice through The United Methodist Church. With the sometimes surprising leading of the Holy Spirit, we strive to love our neighbors and to embrace our unity in Christ in the midst of diverse opinions.
Whether it is seeking peace and challenging war and violence, sharing leadership with Central Conferences, protecting the lives of immigrants or moving beyond judgment to love toward gay people we raise our hands to God in praise and supplication that we might follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. So what has God been telling us? Scripture reveals richly abundant human diversity and that God loves our diversity.
- Peter was told not to deny what God had made holy-the uncircumcised.
- The Ethiopian eunuch asked whether he could be baptized-God said yes!
- Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and he defended her right to learn.
- Paul said there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.
- The Syrophonecian woman-a foreigner-received healing for her daughter.
- John 3:16 says that ALL who believe are welcome in the kingdom of God.
When human religious and cultural practices kept people out, Jesus turned the tables, challenged exclusion and called people to live out their core faith values. The Holy Spirit has been changing hearts and calling us out of the wilderness of judging our neighbors to the gospel call to Love Your Neighbor.
- It is time to take Genesis seriously and be good stewards of the natural world.
- It is time to trust the Gospel that teaches us to love our enemies. War, persecution, violence and bullying are not the answers to our deepest fears.
- It is time to trust the Holy Spirit who through forty years of dialogue has prepared the church to affirm gay and lesbian disciples as church members and leaders.
- It is time to trust God who teaches us to love our neighbors, not criminalize immigrants among us who seek to make a living or flee from violence.
John Wesley’s three simple rules for Christian living, now called our “General Rules,” are: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. We know what it is to do good and to stay in love with God but we don’t always know when we are doing harm. Here are some actions you can consider:
- You will be receiving more mailings from the Common Witness Coalition as we go into General Conference. Read everything, watch everything, learn everything.
- Commit to do no harm. Trust the Gospel. Trust Jesus. Love God. In light of Jesus’ teachings and Wesley’s wisdom.
- Sign the statement “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOR” http://gc12.org/sign/love-of-god-and-neighbor-statement/
The Common Witness Coalition