On Thursday morning I had the privilege of sharing a reflection in chapel as the Methodist students led morning prayers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, in the first few weeks of the program each of the denominations represented here takes a turn leading a worship service so that we can experience the style of worship that each student is familiar with. I wanted to share the text of my reflection with you all, so you can read it below!
It was also a great privilege to have Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and Mande Muyombo there to join us for worship! Bishop Swenson is a retired bishop in the UMC (who also happens to be from Arkansas!) , and Mande works for the General Board of Global Ministries. Both of them happened to be at Bossey for other meetings that are taking place this week and the timing worked out perfectly for them to be there with us. What a blessing our UMC connection is!
This weekend is a very special one as the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey is celebrating its 70th anniversary! Former students, staff, and friends of Bossey have come back for the weekend to visit and there are several special events and lectures planned for the weekend. Can’t wait to tell you more about it later! 🙂
Love and blessings, Katye
In the United Methodist tradition, we often teach about God’s grace using the metaphor of a house. We speak first of God’s prevenient grace, a grace that is with us even before we are able to acknowledge it or accept it for ourselves. It is an invitational grace that has been pursuing us, calling to us since the beginning of our lives. God’s prevenient grace, so the metaphor goes, is like the front porch of the house. It is a place where all are welcome to sit, relax, and be comfortable. (In the part of the United States where I am from, we have wide front porches where plenty of people can sit and drink sweet tea and talk for hours…)
Then the time comes when we make the decision to cross over the threshold from the front porch and enter into the house. This we speak about as God’s justifying grace, when each person makes the decision to accept the grace of Jesus Christ for themselves and to confess Christ as Lord and Savior. But the journey does not end the moment we enter the house. Rather, once we enter into the house we discover that there are all sorts of rooms to explore, new people to meet, artwork to admire, food to share, beds to sleep in. This is God’s sanctifying grace, the life-long process that we go through as Christians as we continue to explore what it means to live together as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
I have been thinking about this metaphor of the house of God’s grace as I reflect back on our first few weeks here at Bossey. For me, perhaps like many of us, this is my first in-depth experience in the ecumenical movement and in ecumenical living. I confess that I have been content for too much of my life to stay safely in my own tradition, to sit comfortably on the front porch, only surrounding myself with other people who think and act and look like me. But even then, the voice of the Holy Spirit was pursuing me, calling to me and inviting me to go deeper, whispering to me that there is a beautifully diverse world of Christianity out there – the ecumenical movement – that I had yet to discover, that I could not discover if I only stayed in my own comfort zone. So the time came for me to make the decision to cross over the threshold (and in my case, also an ocean…) and enter into a new space. I enter into this new home, this ecumenical life that we will share together for the next few months, with more questions than I do answers, and with more fears than I do certainties. But already, I am discovering that there is all sorts of exploring to do and many wonderful lessons to be learned! There are different theological beliefs to learn about, a variety of cultural traditions to experience, and incredible brothers and sisters in Christ to meet as we seek to live in unity with one another.
We will share together both a literal house, as we live together in Petit Bossey, and a spiritual house, as we learn how to live together under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is both our privilege and our challenge, friends! We have all taken a step of faith to be here at Bossey – to leave behind our communities, our families and loved ones, and our churches for a time. But let us take advantage of this precious opportunity to do some exploring – to discover all of the riches that are found in God’s house of grace. Amen.