Every July 4th, the United States celebrates “Independence Day”. It is your typical celebration whereby we remember the foundational values of the country and the things that bring us together. There is also a good amount of pie baking, meat consu…
Someone practice baking and gave me the possibility of experience these divine pies.
It is unlikely that a person can deliver a brilliant sermon without practice, but practice does not guara…
Is a treasured practice really a tradition, or is it custom? The Rev. Jason Valendy examines how the Church confuses the two, to its detriment.
A song was shared to me the other day entitled “O Life Is Like A Sacred Circle”. Here is the first verse and chorus:Verse: I life is like a Sacred Circle when we walk the Good Red Road. We dance to pray. We pray to heal. We heal to live. We live t…
One of the greatest gifts of the Church is the preservation of Tradition. Tradition is the wellspring of life that was present prior to our arrival. Traditions invite us into a relationship so that we can dance with and build up the life of those that …
Not long ago I was eating with a chef and it reminded me of a Jewish Rabbi. Here is what happened. The chef and I were eating and she began to talk about how she would have prepared the dish differently. She had comments on the quality of ingredie…
Rather than try to avoid it or cut loose, the Council of Bishops’ “A Way Forward” offers an opportunity to use a thorny subject as a way to build connection, writes the Rev. Jason Valendy.
Roman Mars’ story on Devil’s Rope is one of the great episodes in his already great podcast. The story of Devil’s Rope (AKA barbed wire) is an abridged history of the fencing in the United States. Those of you who have read this blog for a while now, may recall a post about Devil’s Wire and perhaps even a sermon on the matter. And if you have seen those, then you may have already seen how the plan dealing with human sexuality proposed by the Bishops of the UMC, called “The Way Forward” is Devil’s Rope.
Credit: Logan King
When some people see Devil’s Rope they will find it scary and dangerous. It is thorny and can make you bleed if you are not careful. So, for reasons of self preservation and safety it make sense that when we see an issue that is just as prickly that we would think twice before touching it. For many of us, the issue of human sexuality in the UMC is a thorny and potentially bloody issue to handle. And so, many see human sexuality and turn the other way.
Others might see Devil’s Rope and get angry that such a material exists to divide and chop up the land. As Mars’ points out, there were the famous “Fence Cutting Wars” beginning in 1881. There are those who see human sexuality and do not understand why this is an issue that divides us as a denomination. These people have clear beliefs thoughts on the presence of Devil’s Rope. In human sexuality, one camp sees the presence of Devil’s Rope to be a good thing as it keeps the boundaries of what is orthodox/Christian/True while others see the presence of Devil’s Rope to be an affront of what it means to be orthodox/Christian/True. So we have within the UMC a group of people maintaining the integrity of the fence while others are cutting it. And just like the fence cutting wars that were ended with the intervention of the larger body in 1885, so too the UMC has appealed to a larger body in the Bishops to put an end to these wars.
The Way Forward is the attempt of the Bishops to put an end to the wars. It is not perfect and we can talk about overreach or kicking the can or whatever, but the fact of the matter is in doing so we overlook the brilliance of the Way Forward. It is the similar to the same brilliance that was embodied in the early inventors of the telephone. I yield to the concise words of Roman Mars on this point:
“Right around the same time that barbed wire was invented, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. At first, telephone companies were laying telephone wire in cities, but they weren’t interested in the rural market. Still, farmers also needed phones, which meant that they needed a network of wires to connect the farms. Barbed wire fences could serve this purpose. The barbed wire couldn’t transmit a signal quite as clearly as a nice insulated copper wire, but for many years, they did the trick. A dozen or so farms might be connected on one system and for about 25 dollars, farmers could buy a kit to rig themselves into the network. In 1907 there were 18,000 independent telephone cooperative serving nearly a million and half people. Because of this, farmers were some of the earliest adopters of telephone technology.”
Rather than steering clear or cutting we see an alternate response to encountering Devil’s Rope: building connection. This is what the Way Forward is and this is also it’s brilliance: using one of the more thorny issues of our time, the same issue that some avoid, or build up or cut down, the Bishops saw the Devil’s Rope as a potential tool to connect the denomination.
It is my prayer that we the people of the UMC will be willing to have the same creativity and courage of our Bishops, to see even the most difficult things as the very conduit of the Holy Spirit to build up the Body of Christ in the Kingdom of God.
May it be so. Amen.
The following was originally posted by mistake on June 17th, 2016. It was scheduled for the incorrect date and this is why it is now being re-posted to the correct post date. Thank you for reading.”Love your neighbor as yourself” – AKA the Golden Rule….
In this time when collaboration and transparency are needed, the Rev. Jason Valendy thinks the United Methodist bishops proposal, “A Way Forward,” shows a way of leading from among the flock that clashes with traditional leadership styles.