But in the end, it’s only a passing thing. The shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. – J.R.R. Tolkien
Awhile back a friend wrote a great post on this blog about why he is hopeless about the United Methodist Church. It is a great post, and if you haven’t read it I would encourage you to go back and give it a read. Drew articulates a very reasonable argument about the state of the church today. He mentions all those things that get air time and blog time from across the connection. The post did really well and got a lot of hits, likes, tweets, shares, and reads. People responded with AMEN. I am sure many people are ready for the United Methodist Church to move on to something different. Maybe a lot of people are concerned about the future. Maybe it is time to figure out something new.
But something occurred to me while we were recording the last WesleyCast and I offered this question to my cohosts. What would you offer as something positive about the United Methodist Church? Several different answers were given and we asked for our listeners answers as well. Feel free to continue to tweet us, comment on our Facebook page, or leave a comment on the blog. I wanted to take this question a step further. As I am preparing for Holy Week, I found myself wondering what I am hopeful about. During Lent this year I took on a practice that is sometimes very difficult for me. I challenged myself to look for the positive, not the negative. In every situation. All the time. I even got those people around me to keep me accountable to this challenge.
As we get closer to Easter I wanted to share the three things that make me hopeful about the United Methodist Church.
- Our Local Churches. We do fantastic ministry in the Local Church. Absolutely fantastic ministry. I have been in a ton of local churches. I have heard stories every year at Charge Conferences across the connection of churches doing powerful local ministry in their communities. From Food Banks to homeless shelters. From ministry with at risk youth to reaching new people. These people are inspiring in their tireless efforts in their places of ministry. If you ever are having doubts about the future of the United Methodist Church you should take the time and visit a local church and listen to what they are doing. Our people are impressive. If there is one top thing to be hopeful about in the United Methodist Church it is our local church people.
- Our Missions. UMCOR is one of the single greatest agencies ever created. Countries all over the world have heard of UMCOR. It is probably the biggest impact that the United Methodist Church has. Disaster Relief. Disaster Recovery. Global Missionaries. The list could go on and on about the impact we make as a global denomination. I told someone a while back that the United Methodist Church (for all its faults) is the only truly global protestant denomination. The only other truly global denomination besides the UMC is the Catholic Church. Every other denomination relates to a communion(Anglican, GAFCON) or to a body. We are truly global. It is impressive that we have maintained such a globally diverse body such as the United Methodist Church for so long. The World is our Parish!
- Our Resurrection. Finally it wouldn’t be Easter without talking about the resurrection. I have read many posts talking about the end and what it might look like. Yet, I am hopeful because I believe in Jesus. Because I believe in Jesus I believe in the resurrection. I put my faith in Easter. The moment in time after Saturday is past when we can once again proclaim, “Hallelujah! Jesus is Risen!” Several years ago a friend shared something with me that I have never forgotten and shared with many others. When Good Friday happens, the world witnesses the crucifixion and the destruction of sin. On Easter, the world encounters the power of the resurrection. The problem for many people is that we spend most of our time on Saturday. Stuck in the silence and darkness of waiting.
I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to spend many years stuck on Saturday. Like Groundhog Day, Saturday can become a record stuck on a broken note. It can feel like the record will never get over that same note. It can be frustrating, maddening, and even disheartening. Over and over again. I know that one day Easter will come. I know one day we will all witness the resurrection. I know that there is real power coming! Sunday is coming. The resurrection is real! Hallelujah! Jesus is alive. The church can be resurrected into new life.
I am hopeful about the UMC because while it may be Saturday, but Sunday is going to come.
I just know it.