Yesterday, Gary and I headed to Lakeland for the Florida Annual Conference. We were on our way to the Clergy Session which is mandatory, and we were being careful to not be late. (Once the doors close for the session, you cannot enter.) Honestly, there was some trepidation on the way there.
Last year’s Clergy Session was deeply divided, and it was a painful process. Like a family gathering that ends with a big fight. Everybody was hurting. During yesterday’s session we heard from various speakers, but one stood out to me. He spoke from chapter six of the Book of Acts. This is a story that occurs shortly after the forming of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost. There were complaints that the church was not treating everyone equally. Greek speaking widows were not being treated equally to the Aramaic speaking widows when it came to the distribution of food.
This is somehow comforting to me. From the beginning of the church, there have been problems. People have not been treated fairly and the church has had to do problem solving to fix what is broken. I think it is comforting to know that problems have always been in the church, and still the church has grown and expanded through the centuries. People have continued to experience the transforming love of Christ despite the problems of the church.
In this story in Acts, seven men were appointed as leaders to oversee the distribution of the food. It was an answer that the apostles felt that the Holy Spirit led them to do. That same Holy Spirit continues to help us solve problems. As Gary and I drove home last night, we talked about our faith journey. We don’t tend to have highs and lows of faith as much as we did in our younger years. What we do feel more strongly is the assurance of God’s presence and His Grace. I felt His assurance last night, that God was with the United Methodist Church in all our imperfections. Thankfully, we know that God’s Spirit will continue to be our answer and inspiration.