On Moving Forward
By Sharon Watkins*
Disciples, there are some things we need to work on together. We need to work on engaging each other openly and tenaciously on matters that we usually leave to polite silence or hot debate. In particular, we need to continue to talk honestly about the gospel message as it relates to human sexuality and in particular sexual orientation in our church. We are going to continue to disagree among ourselves. But if we are to be people who share the love of God by loving our neighbor, we have to be a church that loves each other, that can engage each other – in Christian love – on important aspects of our life together.
Among our own Disciples ministries there have recently been some important conversations – where brothers and sisters have stayed at the table – beyond the first round of tension and disagreement – to work their way through to a better understanding. Staying with the conversation after the first flashes of anger and misunderstanding, takes commitment and courage – and Christian love.
As we move beyond Easter to Pentecost, 21st century Disciples have the opportunity to join Jesus’ first followers in speaking a language of Gospel love for each other and for all God’s children. In a world fragmented by fear and hate, loving engagement and courageous conversation on the things that threaten to divide us can be our most important witness as Disciples. We have claimed our identity as a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. We know we gather at an open table. Now is the time for us to move – to move to the open table of dialogue, mutual engagement and prayer, where Christ remains the host and love of God and love of neighbor is the first rule of engagement.
* Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins is the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.