I love lighthouses. There is something fascinating about those tall towers that provide guidance and hope to travelers tossed around on the waves of the sea. Unbeknown to the casual observer, lighthouses do much more than serve as interesting tourist attractions and beacons of light.
Each individual lighthouse can be configured to emit a specific pattern of light that synchronizes it with navigational charts. Without any other instruments, sailors can determine their position simply by observing the light. Each lighthouse is also painted uniquely in case the light is not easily seen or is broken. And in the case of very poor visibility, a unique foghorn signal conveys the same unique information.
As the United Methodist Church (UMC) struggles with its spiritual identity, I can’t help but wonder if they have forgotten that they are called to be a lighthouse. In one of the most famous passages of scriptures, Jesus related the idea of the importance of our uniqueness: