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Voices in this Season of Conversations – Lent

March 01, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN


In a recent article, I noted that the release of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation has led to an enhanced season of conversations throughout The United Methodist Church. Some are pleased with the Protocol. Others want to see it amended to make space for more people. Still others want more details about specific aspects of it. All seek to be faithful and desire to work together so General Conference 2020 will be fruitful for the global witness of The United Methodist Church.

Personally, I am participating in many conversations with United Methodists who hold a wide variety of positions. I am guided by the responsibilities of a bishop as outlined in paragraph 403.1 of The Book of Discipline, including this: “The role of the bishop is to be the shepherd of the whole flock and … thereby provide leadership toward the goal of understanding, reconciliation, and unity within the Church.” The Book of Proverbs has taught me that “it is better to talk to people than to talk about them.” 

So I lean into conversations, whether in person, by email, by telephone, or by video conference.  My goal – whether I am talking with progressives, centrists, or traditionalists – is to help all groups have the best possible conversations that will enable us to discern how we can be Alive Together in Christ in ways that are healthy and not harmful.

Lent is also a season of conversations. This year, the Gospel lessons are from the Gospel According to John. Each Sunday’s lesson involves a conversation of one kind or another.
  • Jesus in conversation with the Tempter - March 1
  • Jesus in conversation with Nicodemus - March 8
  • Jesus in conversation with the woman at the well - March 15
  • Jesus in conversation with the man born blind - March 22
  • Jesus in conversation with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus - March 29
The Gospel lessons for Lent raise the question for each of us, “What conversations do I need to have, and with whom?” As we lean into these conversations we will discover that Jesus is already there. Jesus is the best conversation partner we can have. 

Alive Together in Christ,
R. Lawson Bryan

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