It’s that season once again. Time for the United Church of Christ family to gather together. It’s a reunion. It’s also a chance to witness. It’s a time for laughter and worship and learning and discerning.
As I write this, I have just arrived in Baltimore, the host of the 2017 General Synod. A walk around the Convention Center this afternoon demonstrated what I realize now is the first thing I look for when I first arrive at a General Synod site: The welcome banners that make me wonder if the City is ready for the United Church of Christ to converge.
The witness of the United Church of Christ is exciting. We don’t always agree on everything but it doesn’t stop us from having the discussion and trying to discern what it is that God may be saying to us. I’ve talked about covenant and autonomy before and this is where the United Church of Christ shines! Our autonomy as individual churches and as individual people of faith allows us to come together and disagree or agree or not be sure whether we agree or disagree. But, our covenant reminds us that we can still be one family of God and when we come together we do what all families do—we play and work together and we laugh and cry together and, yes, sometimes we even wonder how we ever got THAT person in our family. But, no matter what, we are reminded that the world needs us and there is too much at stake for us to either pretend it doesn’t matter or waste time worrying about whether we are all in agreement or not.
Health care for everyone is at stake.
Violence, especially gun violence, is rampant.
America is polarized and the language we use to talk to one another is hurtful.
Our earth is in serious jeopardy.
Famine in parts of the world is killing people every day.
People are living in countries where they are abused and oppressed by others.
Privilege and racism are serious problems in our own country that have devastating results for many.
We have work to do. Our faith compels us forward to do that work. And, we have family across the United Church of Christ who are ready and willing to engage with us in that work. It’s not easy. We may not agree. But, we are not alone.
Please keep the delegates and visitors to General Synod in your thoughts and prayers this week. I look forward to engaging with you more on what General Synod is going to ask us in the Church to contemplate and pray on and think about as we move forward together.