Saturday, June 30, 2007

It's such a challenge

Love is a challenge. This statement might seem a little strange. Love is not something we think of as a challenge, but rather something we either do or don't do. We either love someone or we don't. The challenge is to love those who don't love us back. This seems like such an impossibility sometimes. I run into people all the time who my make it hard to love them. They do not respect others and they certainly do not love me back, at least they do not act like it.

I realize that this is the very thing that Christ calls us to do. "
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"

Love those who persecute you, in today's day and time it is love those who annoy you or abuse or hurt you. I struggle with this daily, sometimes hourly. It is so hard to love and act out that love when the other person is doing everything to reject you and your love. I got to keep on keeping on and moving forward, learning from my mistakes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ramblings from Annual Conference

I have been spending the week at Brentwood UMC at the Tennessee Annual Conference. This is my second Annual Conference and it is about the same as the first one...boring. I shudder to think that I will have to go to this every year for the rest of my career if not the rest of my life. Some of my friends from Vanderbilt were commissioned as probationary elders (the first step to ordination) and some were deferred. I don't understand why the some were accepted and others declined. I am frustrated with the system that is the Board of Ordained Ministry in the the Tennessee Conference. I can't get a license to preach because of my weight and yet there are pastors who couldn't find their way out of a paper bag without a map. The Conference Board is going to make the process so difficult that no one will be willing to deal with it. I can go to another denomination and be ordained a lot easier than at the UMC. I am loyal to the UMC, I agree with the Wesleyan theology, but I am frustrated with the red tape and bureaucracy within the system.

The UMC has been declining for the last 30 years. Most people who attend the UMC do so because they grew up in the UMC. The UMC cannot seem to compete with the non-denominational churches that preach prosperity. I think that we are so wrapped up in ourselves and our "polity", "standing rules", etc. that we forget about going out into the world an help people. We spend so much time, money, and energy trying to fulfill our political responsibilities that we often forget about doing the work of the Church.

Another problem, I do not know if this is a problem within other conferences (i suspect so)
but out of around 1200 delegates there are maybe 100 people under the age of 30 there (I think I am being generous). Most of the people there are 50 and older which is all fine and well, but... these are also the people (and I know I am making a sweeping generalization here) that don't really like change and don't like voting young people 35 and younger to leadership positions. So we get the same delegates and people in the same positions year after year and ergo nothing new happens. The reports are boring and some of those who give reports try to be cute to liven things up and all it does is make it stupid. Just read the report as quickly and succinctly as possible and sit down. Anyway I am tired...more to come.