The baby in this picture was found in a NYC Catholic church manger in 2015 (story here). Baby was found alive and well, and ready for a new home. Sometimes babies are born out of great difficulties. But no matter what, when they are ready, they launch into the world.
Since coming home from General Conference 2019, I’ve had my head and heart in a pondering space. That’s where I go when dreams are laboring within. That’s where I go when I don’t understand. That’s where I go for refresh, renewal, and reforming. You could say I’ve been doing some dreaming.
The dreaming and wondering I’ve been up to is around the question, “What does She look like?” “She” is the new baby church that seems to be breathing around us. She whispers to us in the Michigan Statement(here), and the German Statement (here). She has courage and she is waiting for no one, not even for General Conference 2020. She is already here.
But what does this new baby church look like? I can imagine her acting like Jesus in our world; sounding like Wesley in his depth of grace; and structured similar to the original movement. To act like Jesus is to care for those who are passed over. Jesus today would center the church on the edges: the LGBTQAI-edge; the ethnic-edge; the indigenous-edge; the female-edge; the poverty-edge; the immigrant/refugee-edge; and the earth care-edge. And when these edges become the center, Jesus would go out to the edge again, and draw in the new edge-dwellers.
I can imagine the new church having the voice of grace stirred up by Wesley. That grace that will not let us go, that is detailed in all its forms, that centers us in love and screens out our bent towards judgment. I can hear her words bringing hope to a world that needs to know God really is all about Love.
I can see the new young structural bones that are flexible and strong. They provide for quick movement and decisions; for unique shapes in each context; for people who meet together, sharing life in Christ with each other. They open doors to the lonely, the gifted, the young, the questioning, and anyone who wants see this new baby stay near during their dark night of the soul. She will be so nimble and mobile that her parents won’t be able to (micro)manage her.
She will locate herself in strange places: in buildings, in parks, in cafes and bars, in tail-gating parties and parent nights out. She will be brimming over with children and the elderly who love them. She will be led by all colors of the rainbow, and all varieties of skin tone. She will be unlike what we have known; and all that is mystery and wonder. She will be led by leaders who have spiritual integrity and wisdom; informed by laity with a heart for the unnoticed; and served by clergy who love deep enough to risk forward.
Baby Church has not been named yet. But she is alive. She waits for no one. And this very day, She is being fed by God’s spirit and nurtured by the Edge-Dwellers among us. Soon we will know more of who she is and how she operates and what she has to say to our world. For now, we know that out of great difficulty, a baby was born. And soon, we will know what She looks like.