God is Still Speaking,

Our Reflections

March 01, 2019

This week, at a special session of its General Conference, the United Methodist
Church voted in favor of the ‘Traditional plan’ to uphold banning ordained clergy
from LGBTQ communities as well as prohibiting marriage equality. Defeated on the
floor was the ‘One Church plan,’ which would have allowed individual churches and
clergy to make their own decisions to ordain LGBTQ clergy or perform same-gender
marriage ceremonies. This vote and the level of division, devastation, and disunity
among sisters and brothers in Christ were for me, very painful to see.

Reflecting on the events in the United Methodist Church this week, the words ‘in
Christ’ have come to the forefront of my mind and spiritual consciousness. A
relatively new theological hero of mine, Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr, has
recently written about the Universal Christ. Citing the words in John 1 that ‘through
Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made,’
Rohr describes Christ as the ‘Blueprint’ by which all Creation was made since the
beginning of time. In Jesus, the Christ Mystery was personified and visible in Jesus.
By this argument, Rohr states that, ‘The Universal Christ permeates all creation,
including us. We are all the image and likeness of God.’ I agree.

What would the world look like if we truly believed that ‘in Christ’ all of us is the
image and likeness of God? What if we not read this merely as words, but both
understood and lived this consciously through the eyes of God, who saw everything
that was made, and ‘indeed, it was very good (Gen: 1:31). ‘ Perhaps we would focus
on commonality more than difference, unity more than division, respect more than
dehumanization. Perhaps, citing Jesus in Luke’s gospel, we would ‘do to others as
you would have them do to you (Mt. 7:12).’ Perhaps, as the Church, we can point to
the way to such a world where all are affirmed as the image and likeness of God. I
pray that we, the Church, work to do so, for the sake of all our sisters and brothers
in Christ.

Rev. Freeman Palmer, Conference Minister