by Sally Queen
The first day of General Conference was a big day for the youngest member of my family. His name is Wyatt and he was undergoing the first of a three part surgical procedure to correct a congenital heart defect called HLHS. Wyatt’s mom is my first cousin and I consider her to be a sister. I checked my phone throughout the day for updates. His 8 pound body endured a seven hour surgery, and due to the amount of swelling his chest cavity would remain open for several days. It is now almost a week since surgery and he is doing very well. He will remain at Levine Children’s Hospital for quite some time and will still have two future surgeries.
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Wyatt Church 5 days after surgery.[/caption]
At opening worship, we were welcomed by a Kathryn Jones Harrison, a Native American woman indigenous to the area. She shared that regardless of where we had come from our hearts beat the same. At her invitation, I put my hand on my heart; as I did, I thought about Wyatt and all he was undergoing so that his heart could beat like mine. Suddenly his precious life became a sign of hope for me. In Wyatt’s brokenness, physical healing was happening. Medical research has advanced to offer a procedure that helps children who lack the left side of their heart the opportunity for their heart to beat and life to be sustained.
|"All of our hearts beat the same."
Kathryn Jones Harrison
Former Chair Grand Ronde Tribal Council
Our church is broken and in need of healing. Our hearts are beating out of rhythm as a church. Individually, they are beating just fine. We are here because our hearts beat love of God and neighbor and yet our theological perspective, our biblical interpretation, and our own experiences divide us. As United Methodists, we have gathered in Portland to listen, talk, and discern where God is calling us. In the midst of our great diversity and we are called to stay focused on the mission of making disciples. Paul reminds us in Romans 5: 3-5 about how to act in the midst of brokenness and suffering:
We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out God’s love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given us.
Our call to rejoice is in direct correlation to having hope and hope is a result of God’s love being poured into our hearts. Perhaps, our hearts beat the same because they have been filled to overflowing with God’s love through the power of the Holy Spirit. This second week of General Conference begins on Pentecost Sunday where we remember that the church was birthed through the power of the spirit. God poured God’s love into the hearts of people and their hearts were able to beat the same. A unified beating of the heart gave life to the church around the world.
As I enter into this second week, I remember Wyatt and I KNOW that hope will not disappoint us. We will disagree this week. We will worship together this week. We will speak our positions with conviction and boldness. We will bow our heads in prayer and we will wipe tears from our eyes. We will smile and we will laugh. We will seek to be understood and we will try to understand. And our hearts will beat the same, so we must have hope that as denomination our broken heart can be repaired. After all, we are the church-- the living, breathing expression of God’s heartbeat for the world. Hope will not disappoint us.
Sally Queen is a clergy delegate from Gastonia, North Carolina who has been blogging at Mama Preacher throughout General Conference.