The lighting for the mirror in the bathroom of our hotel (which has been “home” for the last 12 days) is not good. Well, let me take that back. It depends on what you want to see whether or not it is good. It’s dim – so even when you’re really tired, you look ok. It’s kind of uplifting – until you look in a mirror where the light is better. Then you see the blemishes that others are seeing when you are in the light.

I had been thinking about this idea of inaccurate reflections as I read some things that folks are experiencing at General Conference. How do we want to look – and are we content to look in a bad mirror to see ourselves in that way? Are we willing to pretend that we are making disciples for Jesus Christ when we aren’t acting like people who love each other? Can we speak cruelly to other people and still see ourselves as looking good? Can we pass legislation that hurts people and still see ourselves smiling? Can we waste time arguing about how we shouldn’t be wasting time, and still view ourselves as flawless?

There is a mirror being held up to us here at the General Conference. Which image of the church will we choose? Sometimes it’s important to look at the real image we are projecting and not the one which we think looks good.

We hear a lot about unity and there are a lot of celebratory moments. Each of them by itself is great. I love this church and I love what we do, and I desperately want to celebrate. But the celebrations have a hollow ring when we are so divided. The image reflected is not accurate.

Overnight there were rumors of a breakup – a separation – a divorce – many different terms suggested. These proposals have been coming for a couple of years and would have been a bigger reality if the groups that wanted to leave could figure out how to take the money with them (Sadly). Now those who had been waiting for something to happen to make them stay at this GC, realized that the mood of this Conference was not going their way. So, they too joined the chorus of departure.

We woke up (at the usual 5:00 am) and had an email from Diane (where it was 7 am) shouting “Somebody tell me what is going on?” At that point she knew more than we did. She’d been reading social media. We’d been sleeping. So we read the reports. We read the denials. And then we proceeded as normal. We might be tired, but we can smile in the mirror and we don’t look so bad. Work has to happen – even if everything is feeling like chaos. And it’s a comfort to do work as normal.

Mid-morning Bishop Ough, new president of the Council of Bishops, presented a statement by the COB stating that the Council was recommending unity, and that the role of the bishop was to “preside” as we the delegates made decisions. By afternoon there were people begging the COB to lead and offer us some way forward. And apparently that is what they are doing tonight. I do not envy the task. And I’m not sure they’re up to it. But I am praying for them. We need help. We are stuck.

So, we will see what comes. I think today folks were begging for a clear mirror with good light. We need to see what we look like. We need to recognize flaws. We must see ourselves clearly. And then we must choose which image we want to make reality.

Grant us wisdom. Grant us courage – For the living of these days…

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777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR, United States


Can good come from chaos?

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