We are living in a "Gutenberg Moment"* that dwarfs other such moments by it’s breath-taking power to change life on earth.
In the past, such moments end up disrupting everything. Nothing is the same. Everything before is changed.
The digital revolution is well on it's way to be such a disrupting force. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is the next wave that has already begun to buffet our economic, social and technical worlds.
The future appears turbulent and uncertain to a young adult workforce that is begining to navigate the gig “piecework” economy and the uncertain future of many industries.
But this is not the only major disruption in our society.
In the midst of the the “Love, Peace and Rock n’ Roll” season of the 1960’s & 1970’s, another major revolution in human behavior was unleashed that was completely unprecedented.
The birth control pill came into widespread usage during those years and for the first time in the history of humanity, sex was no longer linked to lead to pregnancy.
“Recreational Sex” became possible. People could emphasize the pleasure and rush one gets from genital intercourse and not worry about producing a child that needed decades of care. Pornography has become a major industry on it’s own right, changing how men see women and how people use each other.
And the change agents didn’t stop there.
The first effects of climate change were mere theories in the 1960’s and 1970’s, ...projections of energy supplies and the health effects of unchecked industrial pollution. All that has coming into focus and more as the harsh realities of scientific study provide clear evidence that human activity is the significant contributor to the rising sea levels, the spread of plastics in the oceans and the frequency/intensity of major storms (among many other ecological changes.)
We are in the midst of a tri-fecta of technological, social and environmental tsunamis. And our traditional faith structures, democratic process and social constructs are failing us.
No wonder so many people are angry, confused, anxious and rude with each other. So much change in such a few short decades has never, EVER happened before.
We are adrift in a huge, storm sea of change, with very few moral, spiritual and social resources left to navigate by.
As Christians, we claim the God of Israel to be a global, cosmic God. The God of all creation, who flashed the universe into being with a word, and called it “Good” (Genesis 1:1-27).
In Christ we recognize a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) that changes not just our hearts but our relationship to everyone and everything around us.
When we accept Baptism into the body of Christ, we affirm that we are given “immigration papers” into the very presence of God, the realm of Heaven, as a free gift of unconditional love.
Our honest repentance unlocks all the power of “loving God and loving neighbor” needed to address each and ever one of these major changes.
With the great and boundless forgiveness, wisdom and encouragement found in God’s grace, we can begin to call ourselves and all around us to a new relationship with creation, with each other and with ourselves.
The world as we know it (and as we’ve modified it), is changing and morphing at a blistering pace. It is only in the rock solid, unconditional love of God, found in the life giving sacrifice of Christ, that can guide us, heal us, save us.
It’s not too late.
Grace and Peace,
*“Gutenberg Moment” was the term coined by T. Scott Plutchak, a librarian who first applied the term to the effects of the digital revolution to libraries.
1) God loves everyone deeply and individually where they are.
2) The Holy Spirit challenges us all to become much more than where we started.
3) Everyone in the church - ALL sides in this issue, progressive, traditional and "in the middle" LOVE Jesus Christ and LOVE EACH OTHER deeply.
4) We all welcome each other warmly and gracefully, even if there are major and painful differences over facts, qualifications, interpretations and opinions.
5) The ultimate dividing issue before us is how we are to understand the appropriateness in the christian lifestyle of a set of same sex, genitalia stimulating actions.
------ I offer this as a re-starting point of our discussions because I'm aware that the church has affirmed, sanctioned and celebrated same sex families and living units for hundred of years.
They were called monasteries and convents.
------ People covenanted together, living together deeply in God's love. They worshipped together, prayed together, raised children together, shared their deepest hearts and souls together, as well as working productively in society. They also affirmed that engaging in that set of genitalia stimulating activities was spiritually distracting and harmful to their community.
Perhaps we can learn from them and begin a more profound discussion on the motivation of those activities for the 21st century.
Like many others, I have agonized over the issue of Homosexuality and the United Methodist Church (UMC) for a long time. I believe we can unravel, not cut, this Gordian knot.
Is it possible for the 2016 General Conference next Spring to consider two completely unconsidered initiatives that are based on the reality that “Sex" does not equal “Love.”
One side talks about “love" as being inclusive of all sexual behavior. The other side seeks to uphold the biblical mandate that some sexual behaviors are “incompatible with the Christian lifestyle” yet paints it with such a broad brush that leaves many hurting in it’s wake.
Unless we make the above distinction of “sex" not being equated with “love" we shall always be talking past one another. (I’ve noticed that Eros love - physical love, and even Storge love - family, protective, are not mentioned in the New Testament, only Phileo love - Friendship and Agapé love - Godly love.)
2016 General Conf. Recognition of Covenanted Families
…Blessing the formation of families comprised of spiritual people who deeply love each other, but without intimate sexual activity.
In other words, is a “21st Century Monastic 'Small Group' Family Possible?”
Can we study ways to affirm “Covenant Families” of same sex families who choose to live in a close, caring, Christ-centered and nurturing relationship that refrain from certain sexual behavior?
Were not the classic Monastic orders basically same sex families?
Can we recognize the deep need we all have for family without being overwhelmed by our completely sexualized culture?
In other words, is this a way to recognize the “same sex love” that faithful people are feeling and choosing for each other without compromising a clear standard of behavior and our Book of Discipline?
Initiate a Gen. Conf. comprehensiveTheology of Recreational Sex in the 21st Century over the next four years.
What are the biblical, theological, traditional and experiential threads that could be woven together to provide wise and faithful guidance concerning sexual behavior in our turbulent and over-sexualized society?
What do we as a church have to say about
Adultery, the Divorce Rate and Multiple Remarriages,
Internet Pornography and Soft Porn in TV/Movies/Entertainment
Non-married living/sexual arrangements,
Sexual abuse of children and adults,
Sex Trafficking and casual sex among strangers,
Teen and younger sex,
(and other related topics)
...that can bring healing and wholeness in Jesus Christ to those caught up in these tragedies?
Perhaps these two initiatives can steer us away from the rocky shoals of division and estrangement of the "peculiar people" of the UMC who love so.
The responses have been very helpful and insightful into the struggles happening in our congregation.
Thank you all for participating in our “three questions.” Your answers have been very helpful.
Here are a few we’ve received so far (grouped by question but in no particular order):
1. We WONDER about:
Forgiveness, Tough love vs. Unconditional love. Lawlessness. Selfishness/insensitivity. Our families. How to accept Christ. Doubt God’s love of us. Science vs. Faith. Why is there so much hate. Is Heaven real? “Why me? (both good and bad).
General Faith questions. Rejection of Religion and Spirituality. God’s happiness. Book of Revelations. Heaven – being with Christ. Our children’s future. Islam.
Keeping my faith. Staying Clean and sober. Astounded at all God does and has done. End of the world.
2. We WORRY about:
Family issues: health & illnesses (especially of children), family safety and health, alcoholism, mental illness, isolation/estrangement getting along with each other.
Evil in the world. Terrorism. Current lack of national leadership. Weariness from worrying about the world.
Relationships. Feeling good enough. Future of my children. Children on drugs. Anxiousness about faithfulness. Money. Tragedies around the world. Declining churches. Problems of welfare.
The end times. Values of our government-our culture. My relationship with God, my spouse. Crime. Reaching people in a fast paced world. Decaying morals and a Godly lifestyle.
3. We WISH for:
Peace in families, community and world. Reasonable explanation of the meaing of life. Morales and Values.
Church to be relevant to the young. More personal education. Travel. That every member of my family is happy and fulfilled. Bringing my family together.
Ways to ‘pay it forward.’ End of racism in America. More time with family. Finding a job. To help my family, church & charities. To be surrounded by my loved ones.
Shelter and food for the homeless. More time in silence with God. Publish my writings. Health and happiness. Start a small business. Move to the Central Coast. Health to all.
That our children have faith in God. Hope in the future. More time to cherish what I have.
To be less jealous, less negative, less critical, more loving, more considerate, more like Jesus.
There was a clear balance between the personal (my family, my self, my community) and the world around us (our community, our nation, our world.)
Much of it was personal: drugs, estrangement, family problems. Health, Happiness, growing closer as a family. Much of it was seeing similar situations and struggles in those around us and looking for ways to help.
There was also significant anxiety and worry about our present time: the hate and self-centeredness in our world, our lack of leaders, a feeling of helplessness. In addition there was an anxiousness, wonder and concern about our future, the future of our children, our ultimate future with Christ in Heaven.
What comes next....
As the year unfolds, we’ll be addressing some of these in Sermons, classes and outreach activities. I encourage you to look around our church, your neighborhood, your workplace, your school and see if there are groups and individuals addressing your concerns.
Please take advantage of our upcoming Classes starting Sept. 10. There is a wonderful class on “REAL LOVE” along with one on basic faith questions: “ALPHA.”
Our DISCIPLE Bible study (I) is a great overview of the bible from Genesis to Revelation. (And Disciple IV will include an in-depth study of Revelation for those who have had Disciple I.)
By the way, each year we will offer Disciple I along with one of the 3 others Disciple classes. Next year we’ll offer Disciple II, then Disciple III in 2016, etc. Watch for other studies as well.
A new and exciting addition to our classes and groups will be two Hispanic oriented “GRACIA” faith study and “GRUPO y AMISTAD” crafts group.
(You can read about these classes and sign up for them at: www.bit.ly/2014-LUMC_Adult_Classes )
Please let God guide you into increased faith, love, knowledge and wisdom! We are all here to help each other on our spiritual journey.
What scripture has stayed with you this week?
What have others learned about Jesus Christ because of you?
How goes it with your soul?
Grace and Peace,
*Be sure to check out all the activities listed on our website: www.LancasterUnited.org that are especially designed to strengthen families in a difficult world.
After both services (9 and 10:45 am) on Sunday, Nov. 21, you'll have an opportunity to purchase gift cards that indicate a gift has been given in a person's name to a powerful and helpful project around the world.
Once in a great while I feel called to comment on some of our ballot propositions. In a few weeks we will be voting on an issue that I feel very strongly about: Gambling.
I have studied and lived with this issue for many decades and the more I see the effects of “recreational gambling,” the more I conclude that its negative consequences far outweigh any positive benefit that may come from it.
First of all, in order for anyone to “win,” millions of people must lose.
And most often, those who lose have little to begin with in the first place. Grocery money, rent money, school supply money and other “local business” money all gets spent at the cost of children and families.
Gambling also encourages a “something for (almost) nothing” attitude.
And now yet another disaster follows on the heels of all the rest. After the 225,000 dead from the Tsunami, the 1,200 dead from Katrina and Rita, comes the 41,000+ dead in South Asia.
We stand in stunned silence before the power of nature.
It’s hard to imagine the widespread destruction and the loss of life and what it will all mean to the local areas effected as well as the “global village” we have become.
And we have a new common thread: fear.
With 9/11, we joined the world in fighting random bombings and acts of willful destruction. With Katrina and Rita, we have joined the world in facing tremendous natural disasters as well.
It’s been said that disasters do not so much forge character as reveal it. Our dark side becomes as evident as our heroic side.
Our nation is now faced with a deep and abiding challenge that will reveal our true character. These events and how we respond to them will mark this generation in the history books. Will our future be filled with fear? ...or hope?
Wars of the last century were defined by troops and territory. We will be defined by our efforts at rescue and recovery.
One idea is to have a “National Relief and Recovery Corps,” structured like the National Guard and trained like the Peace corps. “Reservists” would be willing to respond worldwide on 24 hours notice to large and small disasters.
Such a Corps of people would bring a message of relief and hope around the world and give a new face to the compassion of the American people.
And it’s not up to our leaders anymore. We’ve learned that only a groundswell of interest and action will bring about such bold ideas.
It’s all up to all of us to take our prayer life seriously and use it as a way to listen to God’s deepest longings.
God’s Holy desires are calling us to be compassionate, reconciling and willing to lend a hand in rebuilding lives.
The future can be defined by such offering of help. The relations of peoples and nations can be changed.
Christ challenges us to move beyond our comfort zone and to “love God” and “love others as we love ourselves” more than we have ever loved before.
Are we willing? There has never been a better time. What ideas has God given you to change the world? Are you ready to leave behind fear and move into love?