After Sunday: Thoughts on “Everyone Welcome”…

With this service we began several weeks of exploration of what we believe at First United Methodist Church.  While no human has the right to tell other people what they have to believe as far as their spiritual life is concerned, we are treading on the thin ice of doing just that.  It’s one thing to speak of what I believe; but what do we believe as members of First UMC?

Consider how open-ended the story of creation is in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.  There is an indiscriminate goodness to all that God created.  Jesus rejects the notion that the blessing of God After Sunday Inclusiveis the exclusive property of any one person or group.  While his ministry was to “the lost sheep of of Israel”, he reveals his message to all who would listen and he extends a healing touch to all who yearn for it.

Psychologists and philosophers alike speak of the paradox of “individuation” – the process of becoming and learning who “I” am as an individual, distinct from the whole.  Can this process be done in isolation, or do we actually need other people in order to know who we truly are?  Much time and energy has gone into the attempt to articulate just exactly what it means to be a “Christian”.  What must I believe in order to be able to take that mantle for myself?  The question we are exploring together in these next several weeks at First UMC Burlington is this: What must we believe together to be a faithful community of Christ-followers?

The challenge we face as individuals is also one that confronts us as a community, to know what we believe.

This Sunday (February 2), we made a case to suggest that what God did at Creation, Jesus was doing again in his person and ministry.  It’s not for us to tolerate each other.  It is for us to love one another unconditionally and leave the judging to God.  Can we be a community in which every theology along the spectrum from “Conservative” to “Liberal” is allowed?  Does Jesus give us something larger than our personal theologies to believe in?

Do you have opinions about what Christians must believe in order to be “Christian”?  You can keep the conversation going here.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.