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Lord, hear my prayer! Let my cry reach you! -Psalm 102:1

My feelings caught up with me yesterday talking to a small group of faithful United Methodists in a sister church. I mentioned being a United Methodist pastor for 33 years and the words caught in my throat as my eyes began to water. I didn't see it coming. The weight of our General Conference's decision to adopt the Traditional Plan was weighing heavily on me, and still is.

I had hoped that we might just vote in the One Church Plan as recommended by A Way Forward Commission and 70% of our bishops. I was certain that if we did not pass that, then we would not be able to pass anything and we would be left with our Discipline as is - frustrating but not different from what we have known and lived with. The Traditional Plan changes that significantly and severely. However, as I have said for some time, nothing happens for awhile. There are constitutionality issues to be decided and start dates are still a ways into the future.

Still, on the heels of our announced downsizing of staff, my heart is so heavy because I love my staff, I love my church, and I love my denomination, and I agonize over anything that would hurt these I love.

I am now grateful in ways I could not have imagined for Bishop Max Whitfield coming to our pulpit this Sunday. Fresh from St. Louis, he will help us begin to step forward in this "liminal space" of unknowing and uncertainty and begin the long discussion around the question, "What does this mean?" In the meantime, as I wipe my eyes, I resonate with what our Church Council Chair, Keith Landau, said in a text to me,

"I wanted to just be sad yesterday and today focus on the future. This one made me sad again. So two days of sad then and tomorrow we focus, again, on the future."

Amen brother, amen.

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor