Let the Light Shine!

June 21, 2007

From the BWF Executive Director:

It has been a season of silence for BWF, in part because there was nothing left to be said. Our witness to the churches, the media, the denominational leadership and the world has been clear and loud. The idolatrous decision in the summer of 2005 to attempt to tell God that marriage was whatever we, in our human delusions, wanted it to be, placed the UCC beyond the boundaries of reality. We called for the president’s resignation, reiterated our witness that Jesus is Lord, the Bible is true, human life and human sexuality are sacred and, well, what more could we say?

It has been an uneasy silence. We have gone to write, proclaim, and publish several times, but we lacked a clear mandate from the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, we watched significant realities unfold. New voices and movements were raised up by the Holy Spirit. The UCC, despite its energetic public face, spiraled further downward pushing out the Episcopals and Disciples to become the membership loss leader among declining protestant denominations. Churches left. Churches closed. The tears went disregarded. Foolish and false fantasies accusing BWF and anyone else who dared challenge the UCC with participation in some far-fetched scheme of conspiracy exposed an angry insecurity beneath the smiling surface.

But then something happened: On Sunday, May 13th I was given the text of Isaiah 44 to preach in the pulpit at Candia, NH. As I prepared it, the Holy Spirit hindered my use of the key verses 3 – 5, which read:

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land; and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’, another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand ‘The Lord’s”

The Spirit seemed to indicate that these were not for that day. Perplexed, I went on and emphasized other verses in the text. Some weeks later I was in an amazing four day meeting with 900 church leaders from 70 countries worshiping at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London. As we were worshiping in the Spirit, the worship leader read this text:

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land; and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’, another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand ‘The Lord’s”

At that moment the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to say, “This text is for the congregations of the United Church of Christ.” I was stunned. How? Why? Why now? On what basis? But again and again this word washed over me for the next two days until I could only be moved to tears: “this word is for the congregations of the United Church of Christ – really!”

What this means next will have to be revealed. We will be at this Synod primarily as intercessors, and we need you to join us as intercessors. If you are willing to pray with us, please email us and let us know. We will share requests as the Lord makes them known. We will be listening – and confident that God is still speaking!

It will be a season to move beyond “right” and “left” to a radical gospel rooted in a radical relationship with Jesus. It will mean being a radical church in the context of much folk religion and cultural confusion.

I believe as we listen that God is going to honor the invitation extended to him by the UCC to speak. GOD IS STILL SPEAKING. And I believe that the key is in the Anniversary theme “LET THE LIGHT SHINE.”

Stay tuned.

On a much lighter note: Irony and Whimsy in Hartford:

Many of you have remarked on the obvious irony of calling the anniversary festivities at Synod 26 in Hartford, “SYNOD IN THE CITY”. My adult children didn’t believe me until they checked out the site. Given our UCC reputation, one can only wonder how this came to pass, but if you want to have some fun, check out the picture comparison between the HBO show and the Hartford show to size up who might be who:

HBO
Hartford

And on a humorous note:

After our April Fool’s Day web page prank, some of you have inquired as to whether in fact John Dorhauer of Missouri is indeed on the payroll of BWF or IRD or both as a double agent tasked to intentionally embarrass the UCC. The answer is absolutely not. We are far above such things. Wouldn’t even think of it. And besides we wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t know what a Steeplejack was. Then again I suppose if a Steeplejack is one who takes great risks to repair church steeples, I can see where you might think there was a hidden double message, perhaps with some sort of secret clue. But you have to admit that is pretty far fetched – Like the “Steeplejacking” book itself? Oh . . . I see your point, but trust me; there is nothing to it.

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4 Responses to “Let the Light Shine!”

  1. Janness said

    Great letter. There will be a group of us here in Crystal Lake praying for all of you from BWF, and FWC during the weekend of SYNod in the City.

  2. Billie Kramme said

    My husband and I are at Synod from the Emmaus Homes in Missouri. He is working the Emmaus display. He plans to try to find BWF booth as well. We were life-long UCC members until our children came along and we could no longer justify staying in the denomination, desiring that we do all we could to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We left the denomination many years ago. My mother continues to plug away–you may know her: Marilyn Erisman. Anyway, we support you and all your efforts. Being at Synod only confirms our disgust at the denominations choices. The Word you shared shows that God has not given up on it, though I don’t know why. God bless, billie

  3. Ron Dafler said

    My wife and I are vacationing in the western U.S.
    We are praying for all of you. May the power of the Holy Spirit be with all of you as you bear witness at Synod. Good things are about to happen!
    Ron & Marilyn Dafler

  4. I attended synod with my sister. I was grateful that I could see the diversity of the ucc with such a large number of delegets and vistors in hartford. I to am worried about the division in the ucc churches. Yet our strength is the diversity so if a synod resolution does not sit well with individual churches there is no hiearchy saying they have to follow it. Dont take for granted what makes us specail and where would christianity be without the UCC.

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