Is there anyone in the Nazarene world who (like me) is going into the Church of the Nazarene General Assembly 2023 with a little bit of hesitation?
Maybe it’s me and where I am in life, but this General Assembly just feels different.
Maybe I’ve seen too much church politics.
Maybe I’m fearful of USA national politics seeping into our church gathering.
Maybe I have trepidation because this General Assembly is two years too late.
Maybe the various noisy factions within the church are shouting too loudly for my liking.
Maybe it’s because a longtime friend who is a part of one of those factions (of which I am not) wondered “if we can still be friends,” since I don’t associate with his clique. Is this Middle School?
Maybe I’m diffident because I don’t seem to fit into any of those moving-to-the-edges divisions. Instead, I am trying to walk the tightrope of the via media (the middle way) that (in my opinion) the Church of the Nazarene has historically followed.
Maybe it’s because I’ll look around the assembly floor and wonder where are some of my world-wide friends who could not obtain visas or where are the millennials or theologians or people of color who couldn’t get elected by their district assemblies.
Maybe all the junk going on in the United Methodist church has me wondering if that will be the Church of the Nazarene sooner rather than later.
Maybe because so many churches haven’t bounced back from Covid, I feel a bit discouraged.
Maybe social media has allowed us to better connect to old friends from long distances, General Assembly will feel less like catching up.
Maybe I’m less starry eyed when I go to these affairs than I was in my younger years.
Maybe I’m just getting old.
I can’t put my finger on it. It just feels different.
Worse, not better.
I hope I’m wrong.
I hope that I don’t feel awkward when greeting some people who have put passive aggressive things on social media.
I hope people don’t feel awkward around me.
I hope we can smile, hug, laugh and talk even with those with whom we might disagree over little things here and there.
I hope we can elect two individuals who can help lead us through the ever-changing waters of modernity.
I hope that the Spirit will move upon all who gather.
I hope the theme “Jesus is Lord” is a unifying call.
I hope the music is terrific and the General Superintendents’ sermons hit home.
I hope I am surprised by the freedom and love expressed.
I hope and pray that I’ll be amazed at what God is doing and going to do through the Church of the Nazarene.
I’ve always been an optimist.
I hope I still am when I return home from General Assembly.