Go – Learn – Mercy

The United Methodist Church is gathering in Portland, OR right now for their 2016 General Conference. One of the big topics they are talking about is the role of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. At the morning worship, Bishop Sally Dyck started off by talking about Pope Francis talking about ordaining women as Deacons. She went on to talk about “The Year of Mercy” and the Pope’s call to “go and do mercy in all the places that you are”.

She spoke about Jesus sitting with the tax collectors and sinners. “He didn’t just pick up their button and banners, He sat down and ate with them.” She noted that the tax collectors being “incompatible” with good Jews in the eyes of the Pharisees.

Without knowing the context, it is easy to think of this as a good sermon, but when you think of it in terms of the General Conference, it is a very powerful message. What is incompatible with Christianity? Shouldn’t we be talking about murder or racism? Those are incompatible. Yet the point is not to write in the sand a list of things that are incompatible, until no one is left, the point is to sit down and eat with those that some people consider incompatible.

A friend of mine shared the link to this video. My friend is an Episcopal Priest who recently posted about trying to find inspiration for her Pentecost sermon. I struck me that Bishop Dyck’s sermon actually fits nicely with Pentecost. God did not send the Holy Spirit just to speak Hebrew. God sent the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel in all languages, in the languages of the people of “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs”

What people are not hearing the Gospel in their own language today? LGBTQ people? Immigrants? People of Color? Millennials? Where are we missing the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit?

Bishop Dyck talked about Pope Francis choosing the phrase, “Go – Learn – Mercy”. Now is the time for all of us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to go, to learn, and to show God’s mercy to all people.

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