Occasionally, someone actually asks me the question.
The question they’ve been carrying around with them. The question that’s been haunting them, lingering above their head, or nibbling at their heart. The question about God, whom they thought they knew, but who recently has returned to an elusive, incomprehensible mystery. Occasionally, the question will surface, and they bring it to me.
I am not surprised that I don’t have the answer. Rarely do I have an answer to the mysteries of the divine that satisfies both me and the questioner. Sometimes I swing between “pat” answers that feel lazy, and complicated theological treatises that leave the questioner (and myself!) more confused than before. But when we are both open, occasionally a dialogue unfolds and we are able to wonder together, to share insights from our experiences, our observations, our reading, and our listening. At best, we come away not feeling as though we’ve gotten the issue all wrapped up, but rather feeling as though the issue has been unwrapped, and inside we’ve found something to take with us and chew on—like bread, or grace.
Last week I began another journey of Disciple Bible Study—another 24 weeks of reading, prayer, study, and weekly discussion with 15 of our newest church members. The truth is, I dread it and I yearn for it. I dread it for the moments when they will look at me and wonder why I don’t know more about this book called the Bible. (I’m the Pastor, after all!) And I yearn for it because I long to know what they know about it and about the God who enlivens its pages. I long to come away from those evenings together with the feeling of wonder and discovery of a God who is beyond my imaginings and yet as close as my heartbeat, and to do that in a group that shares the same longing.
That’s the very best of Active Learning. Not a quest to achieve full knowledge of the mysteries of God, but the intentional work of making space for growth. We are a church who values active learning. We encourage questions—especially the kind with no easy answers. We relish in the journey of discovery that happens when we study together with others—whether we are studying God’s word, or the effects of Racism, or how to have peace about our finances. Whatever it is, we believe time spent learning is time well spent. I hope that this fall, as we return to learning in all sorts of ways, you are seeking and finding opportunities to learn and grow.
If you’re looking for those opportunities at FUMC, check out our fall studies.