By the Rev. Rich Lang | Seattle District Superintendent
This week the clergy of our Conference gather in Vancouver for a Bishop’s Symposium. On the one hand this event is a rather typical continuing education opportunity. But, on the other hand, it is a signal to the clergy and all of our congregations, that a new emphasis is needed in our collective discipleship. Our primary teacher will be Dr. Kevin Watson author of:
- A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley’s General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living
- The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience
- Pursuing Social Holiness: The Band Meeting in Wesley’s Thought and Popular Methodist Practice
What these books have in common is the “deep question” of Methodist spirituality: “how is it with your soul?” Watson the historian has retrieved the core spiritual DNA of the Wesleyan way of being Christian. In effect to be Christian, to be the Body of Christ, is to be in community. It is to practice one’s discipleship, one’s growth into Christlikeness, not in isolation, but within the intimacy of a small band of those who know and hold your heart.
Wesley’s general rules of “Do no harm. Do good. Watch over one another in love.” is wisdom and guidance for how to mature in Christ. But it is very difficult to do. Very difficult. Watson, and in this matter, Bishop Hagiya are crying out to the Conference to return to the rootedness of our spiritual DNA.
Don’t go it alone. Don’t simply show up for the show. Don’t try to do good without an inner fire fueled by the bonds of intimacy shared with other members of the Body of Christ. In other words:
Our times are too desperate for anything but the truth.
The work of our time is too hard for anything but hope.
The world is too small for anything but love.
I encourage you to engage your pastor around the theme of how to grow deeper in faith, hope and love. This coming Sunday ask your pastor what s/he learned at the Symposium. Ask your pastor if it is possible to form within your congregation a renewed emphasis on small groups whose purpose is to watch over one another in love. And ask those with whom you worship, “given the great churnings of our time might it not be wise to dare going deeper with each other? Given God’s great love for creation, and given our great love for family and friends, the plight of the stranger, and our great desire for peace, might it not be wise to hear Christ as Christ is formed through our life together?” I encourage you to go the next level of your spiritual maturity.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
We have solidarity in Christ.