July 10 Edevotional
E-Devotion, July 10, 2019
Could it be that the Holy Spirit is moving in and through the institution of the United Methodist Church and the institution of Northbrook United Methodist Church, to bring about something new? This is my hope. This is the hope that is budding in my heart since February’s blow from the Special General Conference decision to put into law a so-called Traditional Plan. It takes awhile to work through grief. The process of an institution becoming unraveled; the sifting through of the loose and hanging “threads”; the letting go of what was and making something new, all takes time.
I’m grateful for our summer worship series theme, “Unraveled.” It’s wonderful to study the stories of our Scriptures with characters and entire institutions becoming unraveled in their encounters with God, God’s spirit, God’s child, experiences of great loss, great joy, of resistance, of life’s expectations falling apart and something new being born. It is so very tempting, when the unraveling happens, to want to regain the lost threads and reweave what we had in the past. That is the denial part of the grieving process. “This is not right, or good,” we say. “This is not what God meant.” We must divorce ourselves from what is happening, hold back our participation in the system, stop making goals and plans. In some experiences of unraveling it may be best to separate ourselves, divorce from the harm and the painful ways.
I cannot let go of the prophet’s words to the Israelite community whose land, home, the headquarters of their religious institution and all of what they had built and become is completely unraveled by the enemy, and they find themselves in exile, away from everything familiar and secure. The letter from Jeremiah brings a very strange word of the way forward, a new kind of hope.
“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)
Our mission, God’s faithfulness and work of reconciliation does not unravel. It is our hearts, our expectations, some of our institutional security, that unravels. Our prayer becomes, “What is it? What is it God, that you are working in our midst?”
Pastor Sherrie Lowly