The emphasis/theme of General Conference is on of "Therefor Go". Sermons and rallying cries are around the standard of "Go". It is a big tent theme where all sorts of people are getting behind. There is a strong sense that the UMC is at her best when we "Go" into the world to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. That is a noble goal and theme. I wonder, with so much focus to "Go" are we overlooking "Be"?
It is great to have social action, but action without contemplation (a Richard Rohr major theme) we are missing the point. Perhaps it is worth allowing the good Father to share in his own words from May 13, 2016 devotion:
I used to think that most of us must begin with contemplation or a unitive encounter with God and are then led through that experience to awareness of the suffering of the world and to solidarity with that suffering in some form of action. I do think that's true for many people, but as I read the biblical prophets and observe Jesus' life, I think it also happens in reverse: first action, and then needed contemplation.
No life is immune from suffering. When we are in solidarity with pain, injustice, war, oppression, colonization--the list goes on and on--we face immense pressure to despair, to become angry or dismissive. When reality is split dualistically between good and bad, right and wrong, we too are torn apart. Yet when we are broken, we are most open to contemplation, or non-dual thinking. We are desperate to resolve our own terror, anger, and disillusionment, and so we allow ourselves to be led into the silence that holds everything together in wholeness.
The contemplative, non-dual mind is not saying, "Everything is beautiful," even when it's not. However, you do come to "Everything is still beautiful" by facing the conflicts between how reality is and how you wish it could be. In other words, you have to begin--and most people do in their adult years--with dualistic problems. You've got to name good and evil and differentiate between right and wrong. You can't be naive about evil. But if you stay focused on this duality, you'll go crazy! You'll become an unlovable, judgmental, dismissive person. I've witnessed this pattern in myself. You must eventually find a bigger field, a wider frame, which we call non-dual thinking.
Beginning with dualistic action and moving toward contemplation seems to be the more common path in the modern era. We see this pattern in Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and Jean Vanier. These people entered into the pain of society and had to go to God to find rest for their soul, because their soul was so torn by the broken, split nature of almost everything, including themselves.
As we focus on being a church of "Go", that is important. However, if the "Go" is not moving us into contemplation then we will be nothing but a glorified social action group that carries the name of the United Methodist Church.