Dialogue With Dale

May 2018

Other than celebrating the glory of Easter and the blooming beauty of our flower garden and vivid landscape, the best thing that has happened in the world of our beloved church this spring has been our celebration of the confirmation of our five precious 6th and 7th grade Confirmands on April 22nd

You see their glowing faces on the attached photo.  Deacon Alice Ann Glenn and I had the privilege of working with them each week for three months, including taking them to Mt. Hermon Center to spend a retreat time with our Bishop, Minerva Carcano.  As their pastor, I could not be more proud of these precious young people and the promise that they represent for our church and our world.

I continue to be inspired  by the words of the vows that our United Methodist Church uses in the sacrament of baptism, which are renewed in the confirmation service.  Contemplate these questions with me:

                On behalf of the whole church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,

                reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin?

                Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in

                whatever forms they present themselves?

                Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to

                serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?

You see, these children, as they make their way toward adulthood, remind all of us that when we claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we are making a clear claim on behalf of God’s inclusive, revolutionary justice that invites all of us into a transformative relationship with the world around us.  Being part of this church is not a casual, “sweet” thing to do and be, but a form of active resistance to anything that would seek to marginalize or minimize any of God’s precious children.  “All are welcome” is what we preach and practice!

Living the Questions:  Our next session will meet at 2:30 pm on Sunday May 27th, considering “Evil, Suffering and a God of Love”.

 There’s a story about a man talking with his rabbi. He asks, “Why is it that rabbis always answer a question with another question?”  The rabbi answers, “So what’s wrong with a question?”

   Jesus was typical of the rabbis of his day.  According to the canonical Gospels, Jesus rarely gave a straight answer to a question.  Instead, he put his questioners in a position of having to think for themselves.  Rather than offer his disciples answers to life’s most perplexing problems, Jesus introduced them to deeper and deeper levels of ambiguity.

   Clearly Jesus knew what mystics and the wisest of spiritual guides have known all along: that answers can provide a false sense of security and pride that can stand in the way of a deeper awareness of the Divine.

   I am very excited that I have the privilege of embarking on a journey of faith and questioning here at MUMC on February 25 at 2:30 in the afternoon and every other Sunday afternoon for almost the next half year in a unique study called “Living the Questions 2.0”.  Each week, we will have the opportunity to view a 20 minute video segment and then spend the following 40 minutes together asking questions that will deepen our faith.  Each of us will be stretched in our thinking about what we believe and what we may have thought for most of our lives.  And this will happen in the context of a supportive and hopeful face-to-face Christian community.  Our guides in our questioning and our growth will be 32 of the most brilliant and fascinating scholars, teachers and pastors in the field of “Progressive Christianity”. 

   You are invited to join with us as we launch this new adventure.  If you are not able to be present every week, each session will have a theme of its own, but our insights will deepen cumulatively as we share with one another.  Those who already have all of the “answers” about the meaning of life and faith in our place and time will probably not feel comfortable in this process.  Who ever said that the objective of faith or life was our comfort?