The Sunday before I left for General Conference was Ascension Sunday. It was also Mothers’ Day, Festival of the Christian Home, the day we celebrated the birth of 21 children into the life of Glenn Church and gave thanks for the 30 members of our church who are over the age of 90. Because there was so much to celebrate concerning the Body of Christ in this place, we did not focus specifically on the Ascension of Jesus Christ. We did not read the traditional Gospel lesson from Luke which contains the verse: “You shall be my witnesses.” But from the moment I arrived in Portland, Oregon, that charge from Jesus remained uppermost in my mind.
“You shall be my witnesses.” After witnessing two weeks of contentious debate, moments of respectful conversation, people happily sharing VooDoo donuts, people stuffing break time snacks in their bags so that others were left with nothing, people praying before voting, people breaking conference rules by voting with multiple voting devices, bishops boldly declaring the Gospel, delegates publicly issuing challenges in the most disrespectful way possible,...I found myself wondering what Jesus might think of his witnesses.
What does being a witness to Jesus Christ look like? I don’t believe anyone gets it perfectly or manages to live a Christian witness without mistakes or regrets or downright sinful behavior getting in one’s way. We may be forgiven people, but we are fallen people. I believe that the question of what a witness to Jesus Christ looks like is a question we must ask ourselves on a daily basis. It is a question that calls us back when we stray. It is a question that reminds us of who we are when we forget. It is a question that can only be answered by following the Jesus we know from Scripture.
I’m not particularly proud of the witness the people called Methodists made in Portland, Oregon, but I am proud of the witness Glenn Memorial Church attempts to make in our corner of the world. We don’t always get it right as we attempt to live as brothers and sisters of Christ in our witness to the world, but I am grateful that we are willing to struggle together as we seek to discover God’s will and way. We have disagreements in our own church family over conflicting convictions, and we often have to live with decisions that don’t please everyone, but I hope and pray that such times of disappointment and conflict will never cause us to forget to ask the question that calls us back to our main purpose for being, “What does being a witness to Jesus look like?”
Want to know more about Alice's time at General Conference? She will share more about her experience with The New Class and others interested in joining the discussion this Sunday. All are welcome to join at 9:45 a.m. in the Ward Fellowship Hall.