Living in the A.T. era: “After Tampa”
One of the tricky things about writing deadlines is the lag time between when a piece is finished and when it appears in print. When you write for a weekly publication — which I do for the United Methodist Reporter — it means that there will always be a few days between when the last “i” is dotted and the last “t” crossed and when a column will find its way to readers.
This usually isn’t a big deal. There’s a reason there aren’t 24 hour cable news networks covering the church. The ecclesiastical news cycle just doesn’t turn over that fast!
But occasionally there is an exception. And one of those happens once every four years when the United Methodist Church meets in its General Conference. My most recent column in the Reporter was written with the full knowledge that I didn’t have full knowledge at the time I was writing it. I didn’t know what the outcome of General Conference deliberations would be. I assumed some type of restructuring proposal would be passed (which it was). But I never in a million years would have predicted that a proposal once approved would be declared unconstitutional by the church’s Judicial Council (which happened on the conference’s last day).
I was wanting to point to the “next steps” we should focus on as a connection regardless of what happened in Tampa. And here’s the good news: Despite the element of the unknown when I was writing, and despite the confusion over constitutional issues on the final day of the General Conference, I think what I wrote applies to our situation 100%.
The gist of what I’m saying is this: “Evangelism and witness are Christian practices that faithful Christian men and women pursue in a local community. Worship happens in congregations. And redemptive love must always be given and received from one to another. That love comes first from Christ to the church, and it can then be shared person-to-person. All this means that ministry is an inescapably intimate reality. As necessary as certain legislation might be from the ‘top down,’ it can only serve in a secondary capacity to the calling upon Christians in their local situations—where life happens, and where salvation is received.”
I believe that, from the top of my head down to my toes. And it holds true regardless of the fact that we are living in Year 1 A.T. Feel free to leave your comments & feedback.