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In times of upheaval

Man with compass in hand pointing to Mission u

The Rev. John Boley takes a long look at our present day stress in church and world, through the lens of scripture, theology and history. He offers words of assurance and hope. 

Clergy Assistant, Michigan Conference

Rev. John BoleySo, many of us would agree that things seem to be in an upheaval almost unmatched in our lifetimes – upheaval in the world, the nation and in the United Methodist Church.

For many of us, these are the most unsettling times that we’ve ever experienced, except perhaps for us old geezers who remember the late 60s and early 70s, when Vietnam, assassinations, race riots, Watergate, and sex/drugs/and rock characterized the times. But then I was a carefree teenager. Now, the theory is that I’m a conscientious adult with significant responsibilities.

Here are ten remembrances that might help with context and hope in times of upheaval:

  1. Remember that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is still the best life possible – a gift from God – regardless of what the times are like.
  1. Remember that the Church of Jesus Christ, with all of its human faults, is still the body of Christ and holds the content and unfolding mystery of faith.
  1. Remember that Wesleyan theology, with its emphasis on free will, and prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace, is a most powerful theology, adaptable for all times and places.
  1. Remember that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.); and justice only comes through advocacy and activism.
  1. Remember that the Church is always dynamic – never static; and despite what we can see or not see, the Holy Spirit is working in the Church; and as Phyllis Tickle reminds us, we are headed into a new era of Christian faith.
  1. Remember that schism is the great Protestant heresy – anytime we Protestants do not agree we decide to break away – and it does not solve all problems; but sometimes schism is the only way to further justice in the long arc of history.
  1. Remember that God never promises us comfort and stability; and that there is nothing inherently holy about status quo.
  1. Remember that while tradition is usually tradition for a reason, peaceful, non-violent, direct action is part of the prophetic tradition.
  1. Remember that kindness and compassion are the fruit of faith regardless of what side we take on political or doctrinal issues.
  1. Remember that the best thing of all is that God is with us (John Wesley’s final words)!