Dear Church Family,
Conflict is inevitable in life, but how we handle conflict reflects our faith as followers of Jesus.
Now we begin the season of Advent as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve. While we seek comfort and cheer in familiar traditions, I will preach on Sunday mornings about “Strange Encounters” that are described at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. As we remember how God worked through these unexpected moments, we can look for God’s movement in our own lives as we dare to hope, put love into action, express joy and walk in the way of peace.
Please invite your family and friends to worship this month. We have twelve unique worship services planned before Christmas Day: Sunday mornings in the sanctuary; Sunday evenings out in the community; a Quiet Christmas Service of Remembrance and Hope; and Christmas Eve Services at 4pm, 7pm and 11pm.
This month our denomination is preparing for a special session of General Conference with 800+ delegates representing United Methodists from around the world. For almost fifty years, we have debated whether or not to marry and ordain people who are gay and lesbian. This may be a transitional moment when the denomination may divide, or perhaps no consensus will be found. Admittedly it’s difficult to find common ground when United Methodists around the world come from a variety of cultural contexts, ranging from those that accept homosexuality to those that deem it illegal. Within these contexts, there are United Methodists who strive to interpret Scripture faithfully and yet come to different conclusions. The delegates need our prayers.
While United Methodists in New Jersey have eight delegates representing us at this legislative body, you and I cannot control the outcome. We can, however, control our reactions.
I hope and pray that during this debate, which will likely be covered by the national news, we remember that this is not about an “issue” but rather about people. Please continue to share God’s love with all people, even those who have different opinions and Biblical interpretations, and especially with our relatives and friends who are gay and lesbian. They are of sacred worth and might appreciate the reminder that they are loved. I think I would if I were in their shoes.
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
With prayer, Rev. Pastor Heather
Our Greater New Jersey Conference has curated webpages for our church on the three plans, how to talk about the issues within congregations and actions we can take in this time of uncertainty. More details can be found at https://www.gnjumc.org/the-way-forward/.