Head the language of power
Why did the General Conference vote against a set-aside Bishop, which would have been a very good thing? Because they heard the language of power, not servanthood. Why did they vote so overwhelmingly to eliminate guaranteed appointment of clergy without even being willing to bring this to the floor? Because they heard the language of privilege, rather than the language of humble prophets. Why did they vote against urgently needed and important restructuring plans? Because they heard insider language, and they were outsiders and tired of having their own tongues denigrated or ignored.
Why has Bishop Bledsoe been deemed ineffective? Could it be because he is surrounded, with a few exceptions, by those who speak language of power and privilege and who are happy to give orders, but who will not lay down their lives to serve? Could it be that he has insisted that his gardens be the bearers of Pentecost miracles rather than bringing Pentecost to the gardens?
In my opinion, he shot himself in the foot when he first came on as Bishop and promoted an expensive cruise to the Holy Land as a way to get to know him better –- this is clear language of power and privilege. I believe that action alienated many –- it certainly did me. Were and are his intentions dishonorable? I personally don’t think so. But the best and most honorable of intentions must be communicated through the mystery of Pentecost, rather than the cement of power.
Is this story redeemable? Of course it is. All stories are redeemable. That’s the gospel. That’s what we stand for.
Can mutual trust and accountability rise from the ashes of this fire? Yes, indeed!
Can our gardens again become heavy with fruit and feed the world with the life-giving grace of God? Of this, I am sure.
I also know the work that goes into transforming toxic and barren soil –- and that it never happens quickly. If we look for the quick fix here, if we sweep this under the rug, if we do not all carefully examine our own souls in this process, then we will ensure barrenness and death.
The Rev. Dr. Christy Thomas is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Krum, TX, north of Dallas. She is currently on sabbatical leave in England.