Original Posting At http://formandpower.blogspot.com/2019/07/call-to-fast-pray-read-week-four.html
The praise band led us in singing Indescribable today. The lyrics brought to mind Isaiah’s description of God, the one who extends the sky, stabilizes the earth, and brings forth the cosmos. Some part of me is certain that this perspective is true. We do worship an awesome, indescribable God, and we should resist the tendency to domesticate or diminish the divine into something more comforting.
After this praise song, the guest preacher shared a story of his brother’s ministry in a maximum-security prison in the Congo. The brother was a political prisoner; a dissident whose only crime was his opinion that no one is above the law not even the President of the DRC.
Hearing a positive example of the UMC in Congo was an important counterpoint to the accusation that African UMs are the primary reason why the denomination continues to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. Love of enemy includes replacing a one-dimensional caricature with a more nuanced representation. God is beginning that work in me.
After the story, the preacher issued a call for unity that focused on two points:
1) We are filled with the power of God
2) We should use that power to speak faith, hope, and joy into the lives of others
While he preached, I thought of John Wesley’s understand of grace. In his writings, Wesley equated grace with the power of God’s love. By faith, we can perceive that power and our perception evokes a response. Typically, that response takes one of three forms: our faith is strengthened, we are convicted of sin, or we grow in love of God and neighbor.
The guest preacher taught a unity based on faith and love, which are the comforting sides of God’s power. However, to be true to UM doctrine the sermon should have included an example of bringing people together by rebuking, disturbing false peace, and calling for confession.
Isaiah rebuked the worship of the small gods represented by idols. I am rebuking a form of church unity that is comfortable with discrimination.