I haven’t had time to post anything new for several weeks – a major family medical emergency took all of my available energy for a while, then I was busy preaching the good news at Easter. Then I had a call to come to the bedside of an old woman why was dying. I prayed with her, and held her hand until she died, then organized her memorial service.
Somewhere in there, I was also busy praying for 3 people who are gravely ill, I worked at our meeting’s coffeehouse, I helped with a wonderful choir exchange with our sister meeting, I tried to solve a couple of long-standing repair needs at our meetinghouse, I helped prepare for a major fund raising event to help the poor of our community, I made over 30 pastoral calls, I led Bible studies, I helped a seminary student get a scholarship, I wrote several devotional articles, and I led worship on Sundays. I even went home and mowed the grass!
What am I saying? The controversy in Indiana Yearly Meeting is important, but so are a lot of other things. I have read the comments posted on the IYM Facebook discussion page, but for the most part I have stayed out of the various threads, which have often seemed to me to be mean-spirited, misinformed, and more interested in fanning the flames of distrust and division than achieving anything good for Christ’s kingdom.
I would rather spend my time building up than tearing down. I would rather spend my energy trying to heal than picking at old wounds. I want to share the truth that I see, and listen respectfully to what other people of faith believe, than take part in a holy war among Friends which I don’t think Jesus would ever give His name to.
It doesn’t bother me when people disagree – it never has. I never expect everyone to agree with me. What bothers me is when we get away from doing the things Jesus wants us to do – sharing the good news, visiting the sick, comforting the dying, caring for the poor, reaching out to people who are lost and searching, building up the church, teaching children that God loves them, welcoming everyone in Jesus’ name.
It bothers me that Friends in Indiana seem to think it’s more important to be ideologically pure, than to love one another, as Jesus himself commanded us. It bothers me that we can’t agree to disagree on a few issues, and stay together for Christ’s sake, hoping that Jesus will straighten us out in His own time.
I have never been convinced that division is the will of God for us. It has always seemed to me that our plans for division are a well-meant but very human response to our differences. Division is the easy way out, and I don’t think it’s what God wants. I think that spiritually mature Christians, who pray for the help of the Holy Spirit and who are willing to stay with each other for a while even when it’s painful, should be able to come up with something better than what we’re doing. I certainly honor the faith of Friends who disagree with me, and I only wish they would honor mine in turn.
If we divide our yearly meeting, I think that the Spirit will spend the next couple of generations trying to undo our mistakes and bring us back together again. No matter how far we try to move away from each other, I think that the Spirit will keep trying to build bridges between us. If the older Friends of this generation insist on dividing, then I think that the younger generation of Friends will simply ignore the barriers and find ways to pray and worship and work together.
I plan to keep on doing the same things I’ve always done in a lifetime of love for Jesus and service for His people. I wish we could stay together – I truly believe that’s what Jesus wants. If we go ahead with dividing, then I will continue to work towards understanding and reunion.
When we all stand before Christ, I don’t think he will praise us for choosing Yearly Meeting A or Yearly Meeting B. If He praises us at all, I think it will be for doing the important things which He commanded. That’s what I’d like to work on.