By Greg Savage of Blue Springs, MO, USA
I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. —Ezekiel 37:26–27 NRSV
With World Conference approaching, I remembered the privilege of being a delegate at the first USA National Conference. The five apostles who had USA assignments led the conference. The questions for this conference centered on same gender marriages, covenant ceremonies, and their priesthood, which have been controversial in the church as well in our broader society. The potential for a contentious conference was a possibility.
To the apostles’ credit, they spent much time educating the membership of their fields on the procedures developed for legislation. They held sessions to teach new electronic voting procedures. They always included time for worship. Members practiced sharing their perspectives in two-minute frames. These times were not for debating a viewpoint but to share from the heart of one’s journey. They stressed the worth of all members and the need for acceptance of one another’s views.
Throughout the conference session, we would pause in our discussions and voting for “Moments of Blessing.” We stepped back briefly to consider the broader picture of the church’s message, mission, and identity.
On Saturday afternoon, to prepare for Sunday’s legislation, we had another Moment of Blessing. We heard guitars and a violin softly playing the hymn “Let Us Break Bread Together.” I felt a calming spirit.
A man opened a card table among the four chairs already on the rostrum. Another spread a cloth on the table. Then a woman brought a large loaf of bread and another man came with grapes. They broke the bread and shared grapes among the four. The hymn continued. In an act of solidarity the four reached for each other’s hands creating a fellowship ring. In that moment I realized that the four all had differing viewpoints and had recently spoken their positions. They came to the table as one in worship. Their love for each other was stronger than any one belief.
The spirit of reconciliation poured over me and I sensed a hope for the church. If we continue focus on the primary mission of the church—Christ’s Mission, the church will be able to peacefully address any particular conflict. If we let the Spirit breathe and we look at each other as a creation of God—a person of worth—we will carry out God’s vision of peace.
Prayer for Peace
God of Justice and Joy, we pray:
For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free.
(CCS #285 “For Everyone Born” words: Shirley Erena Murray, Hope Publishing Co.)
Spiritual Practice: Praying for Leadership of the Church
An important spiritual practice for disciples is praying for members of the body of Christ, especially those who carry leadership responsibilities. Ask God to guide your awareness of people who lead the community of faith in congregations, mission centers, and the World Church. Pray for God’s outpouring of grace on each servant leader who comes to mind.
Today, God, I will remember “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” —Golda Meir