Sunday, May 6, 2012
Guess Who Is Still In Charge?
Once upon a time….
In a parallel universe far far away, there existed a planet, that the inhabitants called Earth. On the planet, were many continents. On each continent were many countries. And in many countries there were states and provinces and parishes. In each place, there were many churches and denominations.
Then, one day, there appeared in the sky, ships that came from very far away, that carried beings that were alien to the humans that lived on earth. The aliens were very advanced and capable of wiping out the human race. However, they were clear, that they had no desire to invade or conquer, but they did have one request. The leaders of earth were so overjoyed that they gladly agreed to the one request. The aliens wanted to perform an experiment-one designated area of the world would have to give up the trappings of their designated denomination. They wanted to see what would happen and how individuals would react if their denomination suddenly ceased to exist. So it was decided, that the only fair way to do this was by lottery. The permanently inhabited continents were placed in a basket and North America was picked. The countries of North America were placed in a basket, and the United States was picked. Then the fifty states of the country were placed in a basket and Missouri was picked. Then all of the various denominations in the state were placed in a basket and Methodist was picked. On that day, at that time, the United Methodist Church was no longer allowed to exist in that state. All the churches were closed, the assets sold, and there was no longer an official Methodist presence in the state of Missouri.
At first there was sadness and anger and grief. Some simply chose to give up. Some chose to go to other denominations. But some realized that this might not be such a bad thing. They could still see their friends and get together with them. They could still converse on the phone or via the internet using Facebook and Twitter. They could still gather together-in individual homes, or parks or various other gathering places. They could still pray for and with each other, they could still sing songs of praise. They could still study the Bible together and compare thoughts and notes. They could still teach their children about God and Jesus and the Methodist traditions. They could still work on projects in the community together. They could still share their faith and beliefs with others.
So, small groups of friends started to gather together in their local towns and communities. They invited their friends, who invited their friends, who in turn invited their friends. They began to network with friends in other communities and they would gather together at various times as one large group to sing, study, share stories of hope, pray and encourage each other. The various community groups would work together on big projects, such as building homes or to raise money to send to the churches in other areas around the world to support their efforts. The only thing these groups could not do was participate in the official United Methodist hierarchy. There could be no Ministers, Superintendents or Bishops. They could not have any designated church buildings. They could not participate in any Methodist designated meetings such as Annual Conference or General Conference.
To the astonishment of the aliens, their faith did not cease to exist! Rather, their faith grew and became even more effective in changing the lives of others around them! The aliens discovered what many lifelong Methodists had known for years! The church is not a building or steeple or resting place. The church is the people! The Methodists even had a song that said these very words in their hymnal! The song, written by Richard K. Avery and Donald S. Marsh was called “We Are The Church” and that song had been sung for many years in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and even in the church buildings themselves. The “trappings and fixings” of the church may have been taken away, but the faith, the “church universal” carried on!
God in His wonderful love and wisdom proved, once again, that He is still large and in charge!
The End. For now….