25 July 2012

Grace to you

Early morning over George Fox University
"Grace to you," we sang, "God's great grace to you." Nate Macy was playing and leading his song as we opened the last business meeting of Northwest Yearly Meeting's 2012 sessions. We would not have been able to sing, "Perfect closure to you, perfect closure to you," because the thorny issues (specifically, same-sex relationships) were not resolved. But we had opened and faced the conversations graciously. We had absorbed the pain of some and the impatience of others--and a variety of other strong emotions--without buckling as a community.

The Yearly Meeting's epistle to the worldwide Quaker family pointed to both the grace and the incompleteness: (from the draft presented at the business meeting)

The specific step being taken by our Yearly Meeting's elders is working on the language of Faith and Practice on sexuality, expressing the Yearly Meeting's teachings with more grace without committing to change their substance. In the meantime, the reports from the twenty-four listening groups that met during business sessions, and the queries and suggestions that group members during and after the third (final) meetings of the listening groups, will be combined and studied. Our elders have earned our trust over years of thoughtful service; I know they will carry out this task graciously.

One thing that was not talked about adequately on the floor of business is the generation gap that exists in the evangelical community--not necessarily in doctrine or biblical authority, but in the style and priorities of discipleship. Maybe that gap will be bridged more adequately next year.

The discussions on sexuality might be the most interesting (the hottest?) issue that seemed to be before us this year. But the most urgent and valuable ministry that I heard during the sessions was Becky Ankeny's teachings on prayer over four meetings for worship--one each evening from Sunday through Wednesday. Becky spoke plainly and directly to the Quaker community--particularly the American Quaker community--concerning the forces that compromise our worship to the world, and the biblical models of prayer that are God's provision for us in that struggle. Her live presentations were leavened with humorous and affectionate asides to the audiences, but the written versions convey her points well. As of today, these two sermons appear on her blog: "King Jesus Prays for Us" and "We're Marching to Zion."

An ongoing conversation: "Why the Trinity is not the complementarian trump card."

"It's all about gender or maybe not."

On the Creation Care blog: a conversation with singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken.

So: what works and doesn't work in conveying environmental urgency.... Bill McKibben's "terrifying new math" and Karen Street on "using insights from social science in presentations on climate change." Meanwhile, is this Aljazeera article fair?--"America in denial."

"God, Guns, and Guts." "During 30 years of teaching in three different Christian universities and after many more years of being part of “Christian culture” in America–why have I never once seen a poster aimed at boys and young men about suicide and violence?"

More on an ongoing interest of mine: "In defense of worship spaces." (Thanks to quakerquaker.org.) Read the interesting comments, too.

Dessert: Dale Hawkins at Ground Zero.

Dale Hawkins "Susie Q" from Brandon Roten on Vimeo.

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