Posted by: morgan1965 | March 19, 2019

Special UMC General Conference: Did God Speak?

Did God speak to the Special United Methodist Church General Conference, recently convened in St Louis, Missouri? If God spoke, what did God say? Whose prayers did God answer?

Perhaps many people believe that God did speak to the Special General Conference. After all, the Conference spent all of a day in prayer, prior to the start of the three-day Conference. Surely there was sufficient opportunity for God to speak during a four-day period of time. If God spoke, when did God speak and what did God say?

Consider the time when Elijah met God at Horeb. As directed by God, Elijah went out and stood on the mountain, waiting for God to pass by. First, there was a great wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. Second, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Third, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then there was “a sound of sheer silence.” It was in the silence that Elijah heard the Lord’s voice (See I Kings 19:11-13).

Even when God speaks, there can be confusion in discerning that God is speaking and what it is that God is saying. In the midst of the debate during the General Conference one day, I heard what sounded like a clap of thunder. In that moment of discernment, a bishop friend who was sitting beside me recalled the passage of scripture about the time when Jesus spoke about his own death.  While Jesus was speaking, a voice came from heaven. The scripture says: The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. ‘Others said, an angel has spoken to him’ (John 12:27-36). Not everyone around me at the time heard the thunder; some folk heard it and others did not.

If God spoke to the Special General Conference, in what manner did God speak? Did God speak during the all-day prayer session? Perhaps God spoke through the report of the Commission on the Way forward. God might have addressed the Conference in one of the Plans that was presented. Also, did God speak through one or more of the multiple delegates who addressed the assembly at various times?

The bishops and the delegates all prayed to God asking God to be present in the midst of the Conference, with the hope that God would lead and guide the delegates in their decision making and voting. We prayed to God long before we arrived in St. Louis. Did God hear our prayers?

President Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, witnessed the sound defeat of the Union troops by the Confederate army in September 1862 at Manassas Junction, Virginia. Lincoln’s mood was somber afterward. Finally, Lincoln wrote a private reflection in which he sought to discern God’s will among the numerous voices after the disastrous defeat. Lincoln wrote:

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say this is probably true – that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contests proceeds. 

Some folk favored the One Church Plan while some folk opted for the Traditional Plan. I wonder which plan God favors. I don’t know. I do know that the Traditional Plan prevailed by a vote of 438 to 384, and this plan reinforces the United Methodist Church’s prohibition against same-sex unions and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing” gay persons. All the concerned parties and constituents prayed to the same God. The General Conference spoke. But, did God speak? If God spoke, what did God say to the United Methodist Church?

What is God saying to the United Methodist Church? As we ponder this question, it is helpful to remember that Jesus raised Lazarus after he had been in the tomb for four days. God raised Jesus on the third day. The point to note is that we have an on-time God who operates on God’s time.

Are we listening for God’s voice?

Think About It!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: morgan1965 | February 18, 2019

Sixteen Nineteen: Coming to America

The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the twenty Negroes who were left at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. They were deposited at Jamestown by the captain of a Dutch frigate. This event marked the beginning of the involuntary importation of men, women and children onto the mainland. This slavery did not end until after more than two hundred years had elapsed.

The colonists merely saw the introduction of slavery as one aspect of a multifaceted economic reality. Little attention was given to the status of the newly arrived Negroes. Simultaneously, there was little notice of their place in the evolving life of the Virginia colony.

As we celebrate Afro American History month, let us note a few observations about slavery in America. First, the journey to America on slave ships was harsh, brutal and inhuman. The slaves were subjected to tight packing in a ship’s cargo hold. They were faced with unsanitary conditions that often led to illness and even death for some.

Second, the new slaves were placed in a seasoning process to prepare them for their life of providing free labor for their master. This seasoning process often was conducted in the Caribbean Islands prior to arrival in America. The purpose of the seasoning process was to break the spirit of the men and women so that they could be more readily controlled. The slaves, therefore, would be more open to learning the details of their new work.

Third, it was a common practice to separate husbands and wives as well as separating children from their parents. This practice perhaps served as a stimulus for solidifying the extended family in the black community.

The life of a slave in America was extremely difficult. James Weldon Johnson [1] characterized it in this way:

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? 

Looking back over four centuries since slavery was introduced in America, we can see the impact and the imprint of the numerous efforts to denigrate black Americans. When the Civil War ended, it was followed by the full emancipation of slaves across the nation. However, emancipation was succeeded by Jim Crow, segregation, terrorism (lynching, the Ku Klux Klan), and racism.

James Weldon Johnson further characterized the journey:

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;

We have come, treading our path thru the blood of the slaughtered,

Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star has cast.

We now observe the 400-year anniversary when 20 Negroes were brought to Jamestown. These four hundred years have been a journey from slavery to freedom. Now there is a struggle to free America from the grips of racism and white privilege in the land of the “free.”

Where do we go from here? Has anything changed for black Americans? To be sure, the “God of our wary years,” and the “God of our silent tears” is ever present.This God will continue to be a beacon into the future, a future with hope. So, all Americans sing:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
[2]


Think About It! Pray About It!! Amen!!!
[1] James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

[2] Irving Berlin, “God Bless America”

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 31, 2018

Connections: Endings and Beginnings

The end of the year is a time when we tend to review the year that is coming to a close. Lists of “celebrities” who died during the year capture our attention. Catastrophic events are summarized in the media. On a more personal level, as we look back across the year, we recount the several events which have helped to mold and shape our lives.

The variety of events that we have experienced during the past year are accompanied by different feelings. At the same time, we are looking forward to the new year, and hoping that life will be different, or better than the year just ending.  Prayer, always serves as a dependable connector between the old and the new year.

What events have touched your life this past year, 2018? What were your feelings in relationship to these experiences? This year, I celebrated my 75th birthday, so I turned to God with CELEBRATION. When my big sister died, I turned to God in SORROW. When I realized that I had not fulfilled my personal goals for the year, I prayed to God in CONFESSION. The touch of God’s healing hand during and after my surgery caused me to lift my voice to God in PRAISE. When we experience such events, they might deposit with us a specific need, an awesome challenge or a rich blessing.

Extraordinary events are not confined to our personal lives. What about meaningful family events? How about life changing personal events? Have there been some exceptional events in the life of your church. What about life altering events in the fabric of your community, or our nation or our world?

All these concerns we can offer to God in prayer at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.

Remember that we are looking forward, now, not back. There is a parable that reminds us that there are two ways to drive a car. When we look at the road we can determine where we are going (action). When we are looking in the rear-view mirror, we see where we have been (non-action). The new year requires us to look forward, move forward and follow the Light of Christ.

There is another parable that suggests that we should not necessarily go where the path leads us. On the other hand, we ought to take courage and go where there is no path. When we do this, we will blaze a new trail for others to follow to new places and new experiences and a fresh relationship with God.

As we seek to find our way in 2019, let us remember that Jesus gives us solid directions. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It is in knowing Jesus that we find the way, and the journey is home.

Always remember that as you travel, God is with you.

Pray About It and Get Started!

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 28, 2018

Walls, A Trojan Horse and Reality

The POTUS wants to build a wall to secure the border between Mexico and the United States. However, Congress has not agreed to provide funding for the wall to the tune of some five billion dollars. The disagreement has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

This disagreement between the President and Congress is about a wall. Robert Frost in his poem, Mending Wall, said:

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

and makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”

Who are the persons who live on the other side of the wall? What happens to the people who strive to wall other folks out (or in)? Are they enemies? If so, could not they become neighbors?

Could it be that God does not like a wall? Joshua 6:1-27 recounts the story of the walls of Jericho falling down. In this story we see the miraculous power of God. It was God who designed the strategy that brought down the walls of Jericho. An important lesson learned is obedience. God told Joshua to lead the people around the city seven times. So, he did this and obtained the victory. God intervened in this battle, but God’s intervention was determined by God and on God’s time schedule. Another lesson here is the virtue of patience.

One famous wall is the Great Wall in China. It is the world’s longest and the greatest example of ancient architecture. The Great Wall is more than 2,300 years old. More than one third of the wall has disappeared without any trace. The Ming Dynasty erected a significant portion of the wall, but the wall did not prevent the overthrow of the Ming dynasty.

Another famous wall was the Berlin Wall which was erected after World War II. In 1987, then President Ronald Reagan challenged the Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachez to tear down the Berlin Wall. This was Reagan’s challenge: “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He further said: “Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace – if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe – if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” That wall subsequently was torn town, enabling families and friends to be reunited.

The Berlin Wall divided a once united city. German people who lived in Berlin became West Berliners and East Berliners, respectively.

The City of Bethlehem has been walled in by Israel for years. Now, the occupants of the city who are Palestinian cannot leave the city without a permit which is extremely difficult to obtain. The wall resulted from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Because of this, the city is literally sealed off from the rest of the world. Yet, there is no peace, no end to the decades long conflict.

Frost further stated in his poem, “Mending Wall:”

“Before I built a wall, I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out

And to whom I was giving offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.”

Will a wall between Mexico and the United States make the United States safe and secure from immigrants who are seeking asylum? Can a wall keep ISIS and Al-Qaeda out? Do you remember the story of the Trojan Horse? The Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse and concealed a select force of men inside. The horse was used as a subterfuge to gain entry into the city, ending a ten-year siege.

In conclusion, Mother Goose reminds us that:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

Think About It!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 23, 2018

We Experience Christmas When…

I have fond memories of Christmas from my childhood that still kindle joy in my heart today. The months leading up to Christmas were a time of anticipation and expectation. Then Christmas came, but from my perspective the season did not last long enough. I always looked forward to seeing our relatives, especially our maternal grandfather, our only surviving grandparent. The house would be full of relatives, and sometimes we children were displaced from our regular bed (I’d rather forget that.).

The meal on Christmas Day was very special, turkey with all of the trimmings. Now the truth is that I mostly enjoyed the hot rolls, the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. For dessert I wanted a big slice of sweet potato pie. It was a fun time, a joyous time, a loving time.

It seemed that most people were so nice at Christmas time. I wondered why people could be nice at Christmas and forget the spirit of Christmas at the turn of the New Year. I wanted Christmas to last throughout the entire year, not as a holiday but as the genuine reality of Christ’s birth.

Christmas, however, can be present and experienced every day of the year. We experience Christmas:

When we acknowledge God as the Sovereign creator of the heavens and the earth;

When we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our most precious gift;

When we allow the Holy Spirit to empower, enable and energize us;

When we take our hands and do the work of Christmas and help another person;

When we use our words and actions as instruments of God’s peace; and,

When we realize that love for one another will overcome all differences.

May your Christmas 2018 spark fond memories for you, as you experience Christmas every day of the year.

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | September 19, 2018

Some Reflections On The Way Forward

Some Reflections on The Way Forward

September 18, 2018

Peninsula-Delaware Conference

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght

It is a privilege for me to greet you this evening in the precious name of our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let me express my appreciation and thanks to Bishop Peggy Johnson who invited me as a retired colleague to share with her and you at this District Gathering. It is a delight to be in the Wilmington District with District Superintendent Joe Archie.

Let’s begin our conversation with a question.

Who are we? We are gathered here as sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ, both lay and clergy. We are pilgrim disciples on the spiritual path with Jesus and with each other. We are United Methodist people who are committed to a common mission: Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Bishop Johnson has shared with us an excellent summary of The Way Forward. A brief review reminds us that the proposal to the Special session of the 2019 General Conference has three plans:

  1. The Traditional Plan – Maintains the current Book of Discipline language and the ban on homosexual ordination and same gender marriage.
  2. The One Church Plan – Removes all the language in the BOD that bans homosexual ordination and same-gender marriage.
  3. The Connectional Plan – Replaces the 5 jurisdictions with 3 connectional conferences: Traditional, Unity and Progressive.

These three plans are offered with the hope that one of them can provide a way forward as we strive to be faithful United Methodist Christians committed to upholding our church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness.

The Council of Bishops commends The One Church Plan to you. I affirm this recommendation, because I believe that it is the best way for us to maintain unity in the church. The One Church Plan provides confluence for the several streams of understanding about human sexuality that are flowing in the UMC. The meeting place or the coming together place is the UMC. This plan seems to provide the best opportunity for us to maintain unity in the church.

As pilgrim disciples, we do not want division and disunity. We want to remain united in Jesus Christ. Let’s consider a few relevant scripture texts.

  1. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)
  2. For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)
  3. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
  4. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

John Wesley, our founding father, always insisted on unity in the Methodist movement. Some of his thoughts on unity are found in four notable writings: “On Schism,” “The Character of a Methodist,” “Catholic Spirit,” and “A Letter To a Roman Catholic.” In his sermon #75 titled, “The Character of a Methodist,” Wesley said: We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; …But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist. 

Consider the first verse of the Charles Wesley’s hymn, Catholic Love:

Weary of all this wordy strife,

          These notions, forms, and modes, and names,

          Whose love my simple heart inflames,

          Divinely taught, at last I fly,

          With Thee and Thine to live and die.

The matter of homosexuality and the question of same sex marriage are theological in nature, but they have been divisive in our rhetoric. The Commission on the Way Forward has not produced a theological treatise in their reporting. Rather, the Commission has presented three organizational plans that allow for a way forward in unity. The One Church plan will allow the UMC to continue to fulfill its mission of making disciples, while continuing to do the work of ministry and mission.

As we go forward, we must continue to engage in prayerful discernment and bible study, while fulfilling our mission on an ongoing basis.

We recognize the fact that The UMC does not at the present time have an in-depth theology of human sexuality or a theology of marriage. Some additional definitive work is needed in these areas.

Finally, as we ponder the unity of our beloved UMC, I am reminded of Gamliel’s words in Acts 5:34 when the Apostles were being persecuted: …because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in any case you may even be found fighting against God! 

I am also reminded of God’s word as set forth in Jeremiah 29:11 – For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 

Just as we began our conversation with a question, let us end this conversation with a question. 

How will we lead? Unity of Disunity? 

Think About It!

Pray About It!

While meditating, listen to God!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | September 16, 2018

Invocation at Morgan State Choir Concert

INVOCATION

Morgan State Choir Concert

First Nazarene Baptist Church

Camden, NJ

September 15, 2018 

God of poetry, music and rhythm, we gather here today as fellow travelers on the paths of life. We give thanks for the gift of this day and the opportunity to gather together as Morgan State University alumni and friends. We are grateful for Morgan State and we trust that our alma mater will continue to grow and prosper. 

We are mindful of the world that we live in and the plight of people who face the ravages of war and the pains of poverty. We pray for our nation and the people who have been deeply affected by hurricane Florence. 

As we tarry here in this sacred space, we ask that your Holy Spirit might touch this awesome choir. Tune their voices so that they might sing with melodious harmony. Touch our ears so that we might hear clearly the sounds of their singing. Tenderize our hearts, and enable us to feel and experience the movement of the choir’s varied rhythms and the meaning of their words. Please bless their director and accompanist in their leading and accompaniment. 

And so, Lord, 

We pledge thee our love; we pledge thee our faith,

Whatever the future may bring.

And thus our devotion, fidelity too,

And homage we pay as we sing.*

 

Amen.

 

*The Chorus, Morgan State University Alma Mater

Posted by: morgan1965 | July 3, 2018

Racism & The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is an annual celebration with important historical roots. It is the day when we celebrate American Independence Day. This day represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. It was on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution had started in April 1775.

The Declaration in part says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” This declaration did not include black Americans, neither free nor slave, either philosophically or in practical terms.

The Revolutionary War did not include black people in the armies until about 1776. The necessity of manpower compelled the states to begin using black troops and sailors. The historical record reveals that Negro enlistment, from colonial times until the twentieth century, would be skipped in the initial stages of armed conflict. When black folk served in the military, they served in segregated units.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglas delivered his now famous oration: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In his speech Douglas, a former slave, said: “The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds indolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! Be warned! Be warned! A horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!”

Douglas went on to point out that what he denounced was “guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.” So, Frederick Douglas posed a profound query: “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” The Fourth of July celebration at that time was a day of “Mourning” for slaves and former slaves like himself. It was a sad reminder of the unfulfilled promise of equal liberty for all that is couched in the Declaration of Independence.

Even after the progress that has been made to establish liberty for all people, black and white, is The Fourth of July a day of celebration, not only for white Americans, but also for black Americans and other people of color?

The reality is that slavery has been abolished, but racism still abounds in America. Racism has a variety of manifestations in modern day America. Here are a few current examples: Waiting for a meeting at Starbucks; Golfing; Barbecuing; Napping in a common area of one’s dorm; and Moving into your own home. A recent Huffington Post article was titled, “People Questioned, Filmed and Called Police On Black Oakland Firefighter. This firefighter was in uniform and carrying a clipboard while performing an annual fire inspection of houses. His fire truck was parked nearby.

What does the Fourth of July mean to you in 2018? What does the Fourth of July mean for America?

Think about it?

Let’s celebrate the Fourth of July with a renewed commitment to end racism in America.

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | June 16, 2018

The Silence Of Eternity Interpreted By Love

The hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” [The UM Hymnal, #358] has always been a meaningful hymn to me. Recently, while reading the verses, I was drawn to the phrase, “The silence of eternity interpreted by love.” I have been pondering this phrase over the years, so I decided to spend a bit of time grappling with its meaning.

This particular phrase is couched in the third verse of the hymn:

“O sabbath rest by Galilee,

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!”

The hymn is a dynamic prayer hymn where God is acknowledged as the creator of humankind.

Let’s first take a look at the hymn’s author, John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). Whittier was a poet who did not consider himself to be a hymnist. As a Quaker, his religion influenced his life and his writing. He became a strong advocate of the abolition of slavery. He eventually became Secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The Quakers, of course, were at the center of the abolitionist movement.

It was a Quaker practice to worship God in silent meditation. This was in contrast to the emotionalism connected with the Evangelical movement and the associated revivalism. In the hymn he says, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways.” This is a not so subtle knock on emotionalism in worship. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “some folk have more religion in their hands and their feet than they have in their heads and hearts.”

The hymn celebrates several qualities of faithful devotion and piety – “deeper reverence,” “purer lives,” and “simple trust.” Whittier advocated for simplicity and purity in worship. The hymn celebrates the virtue of silence and humility in the presence of God. Such a posture will enable the one praying to discern God’s will for that moment in their life.

The key phrase for me is the notion that the “silence of eternity” can be “interpreted by love.” What kind of love is this? Paul described this love when he said: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things; believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues they will cease, as for knowledge, it will come to an end.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Can you picture Jesus in a quiet place, appreciating the silence that surrounds him? In our private devotional life, if not in our churches, we have the opportunity to engage in the silence that is available to us by going to a quiet place and shutting out all the distracting sounds. Such a practice could become a rich spiritual discipline.

Our daily living and being can be transformed by “the silence of eternity interpreted by love.” It was that way for Jesus. It was that way for Martin Luther King, Jr. It can be that way for you and me too.

Thing about it! “Jesus loves me.”

Pray about it!! “For the Bible tells me so.”

Experience it!!! “This I know.”

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | May 26, 2018

The United Methodist Church: Finding Our Way

The Commission on a Way Forward, at the request of the Council of Bishops, has done good work on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church. Thy have submitted their recommendations to the COB and the COB has now prepared its report to the special session of the General Conference that will meet in February 2019. All of this work is a part of the faithful effort to determine a way forward that will enable the denomination to maintain unity in the church. Our ultimate unity, of course, is in Jesus Christ. The path to unity is through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the way. In a conversation with Jesus, Thomas noted that the disciples did not know the place where Jesus was going, so they did not know the way. Jesus replied: “I am the way, and the life, and the truth.” (See John 14:1-7)

In a practical sense it is never easy to find the way, whether geographical or spiritual. At this time in the life of the UMC, we are striving to find our spiritual way. In other words, what is the way that God is calling the United Methodist Church to follow? Where is the place that God wants us to land, and what is the path to get there?

The Children of Israel did not know the way that God wanted them to go on the journey out of Egypt. So, God showed them the way: “The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22) Their successful journey required the people to listen to God. They had to follow God’s directions.

The disciples wanted to follow Jesus, so they had to go by way of Jerusalem, and tarry in the Upper Room for a season of prayer. That season of prayer was followed by the Day of Pentecost. Mindful of this scenario, I am pleased to join with other United Methodists as we pray together, asking God to lead the UMC on the way forward.

As I pray, I am reminded of a verse from Charles A. Tindley’s hymn, “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.”

“Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand,

All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land;

But he guides us with God’s eye, and we’ll follow till we die.”

In all that we do and say it is important that we discern God’s will, and determine to follow God’s will and way. It is helpful to remember that God has a variety of ways of leading us along the spiritual path.

The hymn, “Gather Together, Sing as One” (Beth E. Hanson) is a wonderful prayer hymn for the present moment in the UMC. Ponder the third stanza:

“Hear us, O Lord, as we now pray,

dedicate us to your way;

lead us to work that bears your fruit,

giving knowledge of your truth.

Open our door and enter in,

rescue from darkness and from sin.

Strengthen according to your might,

share with us the promised life.”

 

As I pray, I ask, God of Light,

Open our eyes and help us to see your truth as we discern your way.

Open our ears and aid us in hearing your truths along the way.

Open our hearts, and flood us with your love. Amen.

Think About It, and Start Praying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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