Why I Am United Methodist #3: Photos

Lance MarshallWhy did a twenty-something seeker with little church history choose to become a United Methodist, and why to I affirm that choice over and over again? I’ll tell you. Read #1: Questions and #2: Touch.

I would love to be invited over to your house, but if you do, there’s something you need to know in advance. If I come over I’m going to ask you a lot of questions. Where you got that great sofa, for example, or how you found that painting or where that souvenir came from. The story of your life is told through the items that fill your home and I love to hear you tell that story.

Looking through photo albums is my favorite. While you show me photos you tell me your story. Where you’re from, who influenced you, what shapes your identity. Whether it’s your grandfather in his dress blues or your cousin in front of his Camaro, your photos tell a story, a human story, your family’s story.

photo-albumThe thing about pictures is that you don’t stop taking them. Your family album is never finished. You honor old memories while you make new ones. You celebrate tradition but you aren’t trapped by it. Your family story tells you where you’re from but it leaves you open to decide where you’re going.

I am United Methodist because we tell the story of who we are and where we’re from. We honor the men and women of faith who came before us. We draw a direct lineage from the early church through the middle ages, from outdoor preaching in the Industrial Revolution to class meetings on the American frontier. We don’t just honor our family’s history, we live it. We sing their hymns, pray their prayers, read their words out loud in worship. In some of our churches we sit in the same seats and pray at the same altars. To be United Methodist is to be a part of a historic family, one whose albums are filled with a treasure trove of experience, humanity, and faith.

And we’re not done making memories. Having a family history doesn’t mean you’re trapped by it. In fact, our family story is one of breaking barriers, expanding horizons, and trying new things. We were innovators then, and that history pushes us to be innovators now. Our traditions push us to experiment and to try, to not fear failure, to be excited about what God is doing next. We are free to change because change is in our genes. We honor our family history by following in their steps, always ready to make a new memory and add a new picture to the family photo album. To be United Methodist is to have a rich past and an open future, and I am proud to be a part of the family.

God bless,


More from Lance at lancemarshall.net.


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