by: Gillian Ford
Contributor: Rev. Ken Brown
As we continue to process our faith forward as the United Methodist Church, let’s not overlook the gift of loving people right in front of us. Don’t get me wrong, I know the enormity of the conversation we are having and the agony we are feeling as a denomination in turmoil. I struggle with our blatantly offensive practices of Christianity as a church and realize some of you don’t share this perspective. Sometimes I resent that my first year as your pastor has demanded my necessary attention on this topic. Nevertheless, I embraced my call to shepherd this crucial conversation with humility for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) - without reservation.
I was recently reminded that the power to love the people right in front of us is an honor and that God’s plan for our lives has interesting intersections! This past weekend I had a moment to appreciate God’s long game when I performed Sarah and Will’s wedding. I first met the bride 16 years ago when she was in the 5th grade. Sarah journeyed through Sunday School, sang solos in the annual Christmas Cantatas, was confirmed and joined my former church. She moved to Texas for college and graduate school and now teaches in a diverse Dallas public school. I was honored when she invited me to perform her wedding 584 days prior to the Big Day(a long engagement, huh?) because she considered me one of the most influential persons in her life. Talk about a humbling status!
I tell you Sarah’s story because her first faith experience was at Trinity before I met her in 2003. She was baptized here and attended our church with her family before they settled in the North Metro area. You, Trinity, had open doors for her to start a faith journey at 1820 Broadway! You, Trinity, simply loved a person right in front you 26 years ago and it was a storybook twist to sign her marriage license as the current pastor of the church where Sarah’s faith in earnest was launched.
To me inclusion means that we have an outreach opportunity to reach even more people beyond our walls with our mission clarity, aspirational aim, and deliberate policies, practices, and yes, acts of kindness. The Sarah's of this world will cross our threshold and we will influence people with Jesus’ story of love without exceptions. May we all love the people right in front of us to God’s glory and Jesus’ satisfaction as we journey forward-braver.