Let Us Soar!

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend, on your behalf, the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This is our biennial gathering of our denomination, at which members from around the United States and Canada gather to conduct the business of the church. Its actually much more fun than it sounds. In many ways it’s like a family reunion.

During the business sessions there were some resolutions that were discussed and voted on. (In our denomination, we take “sense of the assembly” resolutions that say what the people in attendance think about important things. They’re not rules or doctrine; they’re a somewhat reliable pulse-check on the denominational diehards who still show up for biannual assemblies.) There were resolutions on gun violence, racism and violence (in response to the shootings in Charles-ton), and being welcome and inclusive of people with mental health issues, among oth-ers. These resolutions are available online and copies will be available in the church office if you are interested.

The theme for the assembly, Soar! was based on Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles…” In that text we are challenged to embrace the cataclysm of evolving post-religious culture, to let go of the comforts of the nests, and with the breath of God inspiring, to soar!

This message flying into the fray is both pastoral and prophetic. Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, our General Minister and President challenged our church saying, “We could do much more if we if we would quit worrying about survival — we must put mission first.” In the midst of her State of the Church address she challenged us to do just that, “The time has come to lighten our load and tighten our focus — on mission! I am inviting our church, in all its expressions, to join in a conversation on God’s mission for Disciples today.” In so doing she presented a denomination wide initiative that they are calling Mission First! Created to address the need to find a new shared focus in mission. More information will be coming soon and the ministry is rolled out, but in the mean time, you can read more here.

The preacher on the final night was Rev. Adam Hamilton, a Methodist pastor from Kansas City. He, too, was both pastoral and prophetic, challenging us as Disciples to be willing to take bold risks for the sake of the gospel. He pointed out, "It's hard to soar when you love the nest more than you love flying."

Friends, “the Lord gives power to the faint, and strength to the powerless,” therefore, let us gain loft from the Spirit and soar! Soar not for congregational or self aggrandizement; rather soar for the stakes of dehumanizing, oppressive, and isolating realities are too high for too many of our neighbors for us to remain in the nests of comfort, indecision, or indifference. Let us soar!

Grace and peace,

Russ