counsel to the church

I was at the Temple yesterday for President Steve Veazey’s presentation of inspired counsel to the Community of Christ.   My soul was moved unexpectedly several times during the service.  I was first struck by the Spirit in our singing and words from the Gospel of John.  More than once, I was moved to tears.  But, I also felt a deep conviction of the Holy Spirit  in President Veazey’s words of counsel to us.  I want to share a portion of that testimony.

First, thinking about President Veazey’s counsel, I’m aware again about something unique about our tradition as a Christian people.  I’m not interested in drudging up old adages about Restoration distinctives.  Other movements, too, hear and respond to God’s call to prophetic witness.  But, I honor the faith and responsibility being called forth by our “theocratic democracy.”   Considering President Veazey’s inspired counsel in the light of the issues before us, we are amidst the profound moments of our theocratic democracy.  We’re being asked to discern and respond to President Veazey’s inspired counsel to us.  We are not being expected in some sectarian or cultish fashion to blindly accept or mindlessly follow our spiritual leaders.  Instead, the difficulty of the issues and call to witness before us in these words form a responsibility to faith that takes form in our personal response.  To believe the inspired counsel given yesterday, we are called closer to God, to act in faith in accordance to God’s will.  We are not only asked to consider President’s Veazey’s preparation, faith and discernment in some vote to agree or disagree.  We are also being asked to take responsibility for our common faith in the Holy Spirit’s direction.  Ultimately, the words offered ask us as a community to respond to our call to be disciples in response to his mission.  To accept President Veazey’s words of counsel, we must take greater responsibility for our sacraments and relationships with others.  But more, we are also asked to accept the stewardship of our common faith and its witness to Christ’s Gospel among the nations and cultures in which God’s prophetic Spirit flows and seeks expression.

After my experience yesterday, I reaffirm my testimony that God guides and moves among us as a movement.  The confirmation of my testimony will not be in the church’s consensus about the rightness or wrongness of President Veazey’s words, but in whether or not we respond as a people.  More than a church, the Community of Christ is called to be a movement.  We are being called in a way different than before to trust in God’s direction and pursue our faith in God’s mission to the World.

I also share my personal testimony of God’s Holy Spirit revealed in President Veazey’s words to us.  It is not the language or individual terms, themselves, that are divine or inspired.  It is the challenge and responsibility they offer to us…if we respond and believe.

In my personal study and discernment about the future church – particularly, the role of scripture in our life together and the disparate voices on issues before us –  I, too, have been called back to my personal witness and certain scriptures that President Veazey referred to.  In particular, I, too, have been drawn to listen to Paul’s witness in Galatians 3:28 and his testimony about God’s ongoing revelation and new creation in Christ.  Against the voices of division, the questions about identity and sexuality, as well as about just relationships, the role of our sacraments, and pursuit of peace in our neighborhoods and culture are not alien to the Gospel.  They are not “of man” or politically motivated, but matters central to our faith.   In other words, they are not questions of divine knowledge, but divine trust in God’s ongoing reign and movement.  As matters pertaining to life together today, they are a matter of our prophetic witness of Christ amidst the world.  To be called to discipleship, stewardship, and shared responsibility for that witness could be nothing other than prophetic.  For that, President Veazey, I offer God praise and you thanks.

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