Today is a day of prayer. We have shared in prayer stations … in corporate prayer … in silent private prayer … for all United Methodist Christians around the world. There is an overt appeal for unity, but it is nestled firmly in our belief that we are ALL children of God.
At one point, the entire Council of Bishops took the stage to simply shout their own prayers for the church. Today I am seated at the opposite end of the room, I looked up at the screen and saw her … standing right in the middle of all the bishops … Bishop Karen Oliveto, a child of God who responded to the call of God, who served as a pastor in the church and was elected as a bishop, and who just happens to be a lesbian married to another woman. She was praying with a fervor that was inspiring.
In the spirit of prayer, today’s update is just that: a prayer. My challenge to you, the reader of this blog, is that you might pray this prayer … offer your own prayer … and ask God to be part of this critical General Conference in the life of our church.
A Prayer of Hope
You, Lord God, authored creation and every single creature that is part of this creation. We join your affirmation that everything you created is good.
But we are broken, Lord. We confess our tendency to harm one another by things we say and things we do. We confess that we have created traditions that have marginalized and hurt others. We confess that we have failed in creating new traditions of unqualified acceptance and love. Forgive us, God, and remind us that ours is a legacy of grace.
We lift up to grace those who have been harmed. We lift up those who are abused … those who are harassed … those who have died at the hands of others and often at their own hands … because they were gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or queer. We lift up families of LGBTQ persons … parents, siblings, and others … who struggle to fit in without having to keep their loved one closeted in secret. We lift up the friends and advocates of LGBTQ persons who have faced opposition in trying to create a safe space for their friends.
Lord God, pour your Holy Spirit on the delegates … on the clergy … on the local churches throughout our global connection that we might create a church … perhaps even a world … where peace and justice are the norms and where all people are valued and cherished as the children of God. Recreate your church in the image of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
As we prayed for people around the world and for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, we responded with a corporate response created by the task force known as Praying Our Way Forward. I close with this response:
We are the body of Christ – baptized in his name, redeemed by his blood, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Glory to God! Amen!