Since I was a little kid, I have loved cars. At this stage of my life, I have owned a long list of vehicles. My favorites have been my classics. Out of that short(er) list, my current classic is the one that I like the best. It is a 1968 Mustang GT/CS (California Special). The California Special is a limited-edition package that has some Shelby elements in it. There were only 4,118 of them made in a 5 ½ month period of 1968 (251 of which went to Colorado as High Country Specials). One estimate that I have seen believes that there are only about 2,000 California Specials remaining.
When I found my California Special I didn’t even bother test-driving it. I had been looking for awhile and couldn’t find one that I could afford. This California Special showed up on Craig’s List in Sun City, Arizona, at a price that fit my budget. Even moving fast, I almost missed it! I knew that I would have the work done to get it running well (I’m not personally mechanically oriented, but I know mechanics that I can hire). My classic at that time was a 1967 Mustang, which I sold so that I could afford my California Special. The dreaming started once the California Special was parked in my garage (about 2 years ago)!
Two different approaches with classic cars Is to keep the car stock, or to modify it. Most of the car shows that I have been in consider three changes to be enough to consider the car to be modified. My car is a real California Special (which was important to me) but has been heavily modified. The exterior and interior colors have been changed, the transmission has been changed, the motor has been given additional power, the seats are different, along with a few other things. Some people strongly feel that the cars should be kept (or brought back to being) stock, while I’m good with my car being modified. Each of us gets to decide on the approach that we will use with our own car. For me, I like to restrict my car to options that were available when the car was manufactured.
I have been thinking about what it would be like if there were a thousand co-owners with my California Special. I would hate it! Trying to get everyone to agree on what should be done would be almost impossible. I’m grateful that I get to make the decisions for the future of my car. I have a few people who I trust to give me good advice, and then I do a lot of research. In the near future, there might be a white vinyl top on my car (I doubt if a thousand co-owners would ever agree with this)! I’m still pondering if I will keep the current exterior color or change it.
The public side of the hobby comes in the form of car clubs and car shows. This is when we come together as car enthusiasts. At my last church we had a club called the Holy Hotrods. We tried to get together on a monthly basis. and we also hosted an annual car show. As we come together with others, we no longer get to make all of the decisions. We are one voice out of many. This is where we have to learn how to work together, respect one another, and make compromises.
On the spiritual side of life, I’m very happy that I get to make the decisions for my own life. This is a blessing that each of us have. I encourage us to do the hard work necessary to figure out for ourselves what we believe. We might have a few people that we really trust to give us good spiritual advice, but after that it’s time to do a lot of research. People like to tell us what the Bible says, and what we should get from it. Instead we need to read the Bible for ourselves, so that we know what it says. We should be informed by our spiritual disciplines as we decide what we believe God wants us to do. It’s amazing to me how often something is presented as a clear-cut fact, even sometimes from the pulpit, when the issue is actually a lot more complicated. It is our personal responsibility to decide what our own spiritual lives are going to look like.
Our challenge as the United Methodist Church is how do we live in community with each other? We each have the individual right to figure out what we believe, but what do we do when we become one voice out of many? It is essential that we find ways to work together, respect one another, and make compromises, while at the same time keeping a good grip on our personal beliefs. I don’t think that we have to believe the same way on everything in order to stay in the same church family. I’m hearing some people say that the answer is to have more rules and enforce them more rigidly. I’m of the mind that we need to learn how to practice grace more strongly. You get to decide what you believe is right.
Would you like to be better informed about some of the plans being brought to our Called General Conference in February? If you go to our Conference web-site (dscumc.org) you will find a box titled “2019 General Conference”. This is where you can find the “Way Forward” reports. There is also a schedule for Holy Huddles in each of our Districts. Bishop Bob Hoshibata will lead us in each of these Holy Huddles as we look at the issues, and possibilities, facing our United Methodist Church. In our South District, our clergy will meet on Friday, Oct. 5, from 10:00 AM to noon. Then we will have a combined meeting with clergy and laity on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 1:00-4:30 PM. Both meetings will be held at Christ Church UM. The reports and the Holy Huddles are ways to gain first-hand knowledge as we try to help our United Methodist Church to navigate into the future.
As challenging as life gets, both personally and in community, I have to tell you that I’m excited to get to live as a Christian! It is good to get the privilege to be where God has placed us.
Your brother on the journey, Mark