Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.
You know what I thought going in? Today was supposed to be the day after everything was decided. From here forward, every day in Methodism would be the day after February 26th. Perhaps, it still is. Methodists are the people who ran from a monster truck rally. February 27th, the day American Methodism became something it was never intended to be. Yes, today is the tomorrow we can’t forget.
Those who were elected to the General Conference; whether by name id, popularity, or on their qualifications to represent their annual conference would come back home with the good news. Today was the day that Methodism would welcome everyone, officially, into the open arms, doors, and minds of the United Methodist Church. Today was the day to officiate at wedding services for black gay women who wanted to marry gay Hispanic women. Today was the day to move forward and free of the threat of sanction. Our LGBTQI family seeking ordination would walk into boards of ordained ministry and be questioned like their straight sisters and brothers. Today was to be a new day. Instead, today is just like yesterday and tomorrow will be just like today.
For almost three weeks, some of United Methodists have continued to wait on a tomorrow that remains under debate. However, there are other Methodists who received their Utopia and have checked in at the front gate. My church isn’t invited to their party. I’m not sure they’d let my friends, colleagues, and parishioners in the door. That’s a pity. We have more in common than they realize.
Our today, the perpetual moment of expectant hope, so familiar in seasons like Advent and Lent, is making us less hopeful and frustrated. Instead of feeling liberated by the gift of spiritual reflection, I feel little need to ask God, “What’s next?” There doesn’t feel like much of an immediate future. Another conference, decision, judicial council ruling, or threat of schism, will do no more than they have already done; they will bring us to today, unable to see tomorrow and longing for a yesterday which never existed.
At the moment, I believe, we are well and truly broken.
Richard Lowell Bryant