By Rev. Shannon Blosser
Throughout the called special session of the General Conference, I sat in the rafters of the Dome at the America’s Center watching it all take place. My role was to report on this important moment for the Kentucky Annual Conference. I was not a pastor, but a journalist looking upon the scene and trying to make sense of it all. Yet, the pastor in me was never too far away.
I believe the role of a pastor is to be a shepherd. An image that is modeled after Jesus’ own understanding of being a shepherd who guides, comforts, and encourages the flock forward. My understanding of a flock is larger than just those who agree with me on any issue or attend a church that I may serve. I believe my flock to include all the people within the community that God has placed me in to share the grace, peace, and comfort of our Lord.
As we went through our procedures and discussions yesterday, it became evident to me that the flock was seeing a very difficult moment in the life of the church. We resorted to accusations. We denounced people we disagreed with. We argued that only “my side” understood Scripture properly. We failed to show the love of God towards even those with whom we disagree.
And while there were moments of grace that was evident at General Conference, such as when all the delegates and observers came together for a time of prayer, what we ultimately saw was a church that expressed the very same divisions we see within society in the political arenas.
These divisions do not enable our witness. Our divisions prevent us from being the true witness of Jesus’ love. When we live within our dividing lines, we fail to give witness the imago Dei – the image of God – that is within all people.
On Sunday, we will come to the table of grace at communion. As we do, we will share the words of the Prayer of Confession that can roll of our tongue and easily lose its meaning. I know it can for me, at times. I invite you on this day and in the days to come to reflect upon this prayer and ask God to show you where there may be places that you have failed to be the church that gives witness to the imago Dei that is within all people.
Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As you pray this prayer, I also invite you to ask God to show you how you can help us to be the church of God’s love moving forward. You may have seen what I posted last night on Facebook. I shared how I believe we have work to do to rebuild relationships and to express the hope and grace of God. This is not a work just for me. It is a work for all of us.
So, I hope you will join us in this important work, because that is the Main Thing before us: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I know you will do this, because God goes with us in this difficult task of sharing the hope of God to all. God bless you!