At Annual Conference in June, the members and guests participated in Circles of Grace. These were small groups designed to discuss what might be considered either controversial topics or complicated ones.
To tell the truth, I wasn't anticipating these circles with joy. I could easily have skipped them. I think that others do not have the same opinion that I do, and I didn't want to be caught between not speaking and saying too much. I didn't want to offend someone, and I didn't want to not defend my opinion.
But, I didn't skip the conversation; I participated. And I'm glad I did.
The topic that was discussed at the first Circles of Grace meeting was the United Methodist Bishop's "Offering of a Way Forward
" This recommendation from the Council of Bishops was to postpone discussion and decisions relating to the topic of human sexuality until a Special Commission can be formed. The questions at the Circle of Grace were related to this topic.
As I assumed, there was a range of opinions in my Circle of Grace relating to this issue. What I found, though, was that while everyone was willing to express their thoughts, the rest of us showed an unusual willingness to listen. Body language was open as people strained forward in their chairs to hear every word uttered by those in the circle. We all didn't think alike, but we all knew we were called to love alike. The experience was full of hope and grace.
The gentleman who was sitting next to me seemed to have an opinion on the matter that was the polar opposite of mine. At the end of the Circle meeting, he stood and shook hands with many members of the group, but he skipped me. I wondered about that, and hated to leave the circle with that "wonder" in my mind. BUT, at the end, he hugged me.
Grace. In God, there is a way forward.
Labels: Annual Conference, grace