Over the course of the past week I have fallen in love with the United Church of Christ all over again. Watching the church, in all our multiple, beautiful, sometimes contentious contexts, worship, sing, pray and work together to discern our outward priorities for the next two years reminded me why this church is my home.
Our commitment to be united in Christ binds us to one another, even when we don’t agree. I do not like all of the decisions we came to this week, and I know I am not the only one: debate on the floor often became heated and emotional as people witnessed to the direction that they believed the church should move, and the resolutions could not please everyone. I think of the man whose wife died of a painful and slow moving brain cancer who beseeched the committee to vote in favor of passing the medical aid in dying resolution, something that the Synod was not able to support. I remember the pastor moved to tears testifying about the impact of a resolution condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children on her relationships and interfaith work with Jewish congregations and colleagues. That resolution passed.
Being a Synod delegate means voting against people’s deeply held beliefs, choosing between two difficult paths and knowing that, either way, people will be disappointed. Being part of the United Church of Christ means not agreeing with the church on every issue, and knowing that the Church will be out front on some issues that make you uncomfortable and behind on some issues for which you are passionate about. For me, however, this is what discipleship looks like—we must, at times, subsume our own preferences to the will of the wider body, trusting that the spirit is moving in the church, and trusting that each person is doing their best to steward the church into the future.
Watching us do this together has reminded me of the miracle that is the United Church of Christ, a church that calls us to unite in our love of Jesus and the Gospel, even when this unity means being challenged, stretched, and even occasionally unpleasantly pushed along with other Christians following the Spirit’s call.
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