Here’s my General Conference dream:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this opening session of the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church. I hereby call this session to order.
Turning to our first agenda item, all of those who wish to beat each other up over the issue of homosexuality please excuse yourselves from the floor and reconvene just down the hall in room 560, which has been reserved especially for you for the duration of the conference. Do not forget to bring your Bibles with you, as there are many good tidbits in there which you can use as ammunition against one another. You will be notified at the beginning of our closing session, at which time we will reconvene to hear absolutely no report whatsoever of what you have been doing for the past several days.
Those of you who wish to remain on the floor and discuss our other agenda items, like the presence of the living God in our midst, the mission of the church as God’s agent in the world, sharing the grace of Jesus Christ with those who so desperately need to experience it, the spreading of scriptural holiness throughout the land, the power of God’s Holy Spirit to bring peace and justice to a hurting and broken world, creative ways to participate in the ongoing incarnation of Christ to realize God’s reign on earth, and so forth, please be in recess for a few moments as we allow our more single-minded brothers and sisters to adjourn for their special session down the hall.
We will reconvene in five minutes.”
To be clear, I am not advocating ignoring the issue of homosexuality. I simply think that there are too many people who are ready to throw down and do battle over the issue to have any hope of a healthy conversation. And I think that there are people on “both sides” of the issue that fall into that category. But if we reframe the conversation, and make it be about the church’s participation in God’s mission on earth in Christ Jesus, maybe we’ll be able to talk together in a grace-filled, loving, healthy way.
What are the chances of my dream coming true, do you think?
Is it dewy-eyed optimism, or hope for things unseen?