Lectionary Reading: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 (NRSV)
We hear a lot of frustration with our political system being ineffective. It is difficult to pass legislation that is clean. In order to get this vote or that vote, you must agree to certain riders that benefit individual states rather than the country as a whole. I was more vocal in my dissatisfaction until I started attending The United Methodist Church’s General Conference as a delegate.
In 2012, I was astounded at the amount of time we spent amending the rules. It seemed to go on all evening. We finally adjourned and the next day we would begin to vote on all of these amendments. These were not changes to our Discipline which would move us forward as a global church. These were debates over how we would treat each other in the limited time we were conferencing. In my past experiences, we never had time to finish all of the work proposed and so I felt the clock ticking.
The next morning, I went to the microphone and proposed that we postpone indefinitely all of the amendments to the rules that were before us. This would effectively make them go away and so we could simply vote on all the rules as presented by the committee. I was actually in favor of many of the changes that were proposed but I was willing to go with the presented rules in order to have more time for the important work of dealing with all of the legislation written by United Methodists from around the world. I felt that as a delegate, I must be a good steward with the time allotted. These members had paid our way to serve on their behalf and so it seems that we should attend to as much legislation as we possibly could.
Some trees are so interesting,
they prevent us from seeing the
One of the arguments was that we should not just rubber stamp what the committee has approved. I agree when it comes to legislation for the church. However, I felt that the rules committee had overall developed a good way for us to conference together. My proposal passed 491 to 367.
Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture. We need to prioritize. All human beings get caught up in this - we see it reflected in our Gospel reading. Jesus seems to recognize this as the Pharisees were so concerned about purity laws that it was leaving people in the dust. Many of the common daily laborers would not have been able to observe all of the cleanliness laws. In an effort to distinguish themselves from the Roman occupiers, the Pharisees cut out a wide swath of society who would like to be faithful but unable to comply on a daily basis.
When the law of purity supersedes the law of love, Jesus seems to remind us that what God really wants us to pay attention to is how well we interact with one another.
I’ll be looking at this passage on Sunday. If you are out for Labor Day weekend, we’ll have a video archive online for you to check out!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.