The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning
The time had come. The bags were packed. No turning back now. We hugged our pets, thanked our house sitters, threw our luggage in the trunk, and waved to our neighbors as we headed north out of Tulsa. Nervous excitement filled the car as we left our familiar scenery behind. The small towns dotting highway 169 blurred past as we headed toward Kansas City. We had recently resigned from the Pastoral team of a mainline Protestant congregation. He was the pianist and I was the Associate Pastor. But that was behind us now. We weren’t quite sure what to expect. We had no clue about what lay ahead, but we had the feeling we were being called, led somewhere, somehow. So we turned up the tunes and tuned out the uncertainties and sped onward and upward toward our first World Conference.
I met with the Pastoral Team of Tulsa Central Community of Christ just days before our departure. My confirmation was set for the first weekend in July. It was years in the making. I was ready. Yet I needed one more thing…a bigger picture, a wider view perhaps. I was curious. How does this peculiar faith tradition reverberate in the life and witness of diverse populations around the globe? Looking back I realize I needed one more affirmation, one final burning bush. I needed to know that God really was still speaking, still moving, still shaping the world in the Divine Image. I needed to find myself in the vast mosaic that is Community of Christ. We had found our church home at Tulsa Central for sure, but was there really a seat at the table for us in the global Church? There was only one way to find out.
What we experienced at World Conference was beyond what we expected or could have even imagined. We felt God’s Spirit at work in that holy place. We saw God in the outpouring of love and support evidenced by each rainbow button and lanyard. We heard God in each thundering hymn as a chorus of voices in myriad languages echoed the clarion call to praise the Living God, a God that still speaks through prophets, priests and scriptures, a God that empowers each one through the grace of community to work for the building up of Zion in this time and place, not just in some ethereal heaven light years away, here and now! We were caught up, changed in the twinkling of an eye. We went in search of a burning bush and were met there by a God who had set the whole church ablaze with divine mercy, love and truth.
As we headed home on Sunday evening we did so with a song in our hearts. "God's whose Spirit like a fire is burning." I was changed by our holy time in Independence. Something clicked for me in that sacred place. It might have been during the John Whitmer Historical Associate banquet or the Prayer for Peace in our beautiful Temple. Perhaps I received my personal revelation during the Roll Call of the Nations or when I received communion with thousands of my RLDS brothers and sisters from around the globe. I am unsure of the exact moment it all clicked for me, but that doesn’t matter much. What matters is that though I was already remarkably excited to continue my journey of faith with Community of Christ, #WC2016 (World Conference 2016) made me proud beyond measure to call myself a Latter Day Saint. For that, I am thankful.
Tulsa Central Congregation
World Conference is a time for us to come together as an international community to discuss important issues facing our faith tradition and our world today. Each geographic area of Community of Christ sends delegates to Independence who will represent their unique spiritual/cultural perspectives. The Assembly is made up of 3 - 5,000 delegates from 52+ nations from around the world, each conferring and striving to reach consensus with other delegates using Robert’s Rules of Order. (Imagine the United Nations with delegates able to speak at a microphone in order to ask questions/raise concerns/speak in favor or against.)
I had the privilege of being an Oklahoma Delegate this year, and I enjoyed my experience immensely! Some of the highlights for me?
I’ll share a few of my favorite lines…
6 a. Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.
b. As Christ’s body, lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism from those who hesitate to respond to the divine vision of human worth and equality in Christ. This burden and blessing is yours for divine purposes.
Thank you for allowing me to be an Oklahoma Delegate this year. I was blessed because of it!
Church Mission & Young Adult Ministry Specialist
Enjoy this audio recording of The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning from the June 4, 2016, service in The Auditorium. (I recorded it myself!)
We all have a story to share. Mosaic is a collection of our stories.