Bishop Frank Beard
The speakers were thumping out Kool and the Gang’s super hit, Celebrate, and I was dancing on my roller skates in perfect rhythm with the music. Yes, I was singing and screaming the lyrics too: “There's a party goin' on right here A celebration to last throughout the years So bring your good times, and your laughter too We gonna celebrate your party with you, celebrate good times, come on!”
Today I take great pleasure in knowing that the denomination that I love has a process and a plan designed to hold its members accountable while doing its best to assure a fair process when addressing a variety of issues. Our process seems, at times, long and complex when it comes to rendering a final decision. I am reminded that Jesus, though often pressed and pushed, never rushed to a decision. Jesus was not reactionary; he was responsive.
“And are we yet alive, And see each other's face? Glory, and thanks to Jesus give For his almighty grace!”
The prayer of agreement does not rob us of individual expression or deprive us from using our own unique talents. A prayer of agreement allows us, like a praise band or orchestra, to play the proper piece at the right time in harmony with one another under the guidance of the conductor/director. The Lenten journey is designed to culminate in a harmonious celebration of the resurrected triumphant Lord. During this holiest of weeks let us unite our hearts in a prayer of agreement for our Nation and for our World.
The disciples that Jesus had assembled started drifting away at the Passover. By the time we get to the crucifixion of Jesus only a few women and John, the beloved disciple, remain clearly visible. Each of the original disciples abandoned Jesus in one way or another. They all deserted Jesus and fled away in fear. Jesus’ last words on the cross were, “It is finished!” After uttering those last words, he died. His death, while predicted and announced by Jesus himself, left his disciples in a state of disarray and panic. The followers of Jesus were broken, defeated, and most of them, as echoed by the two pilgrims on the Emmaus road, experienced a state of unparalleled hopelessness. How did this ragtag group of frightened followers experience both personal and corporate renewal and transformation? Their transformation was so powerful and effective that they were eventually noted for “turning the world upside down.” What happened?
The forty days of Lenten observance are designed to end with the joyful celebration of the triumphant Christ. Jesus has been victorious and has promised that his successful conquest will yield a harvest of righteousness within those committed to following him. Lent is often observed with extended periods for fasting and repentance because sometimes we fall short of the standard Christ requires.
The need for the light of hope and the healing help of the church has never been more pronounced or critical to addressing the requirements of our rapidly changing world. Simply put, the world needs the church now more than ever.
Our communities and our nation are filled with folks that are crying out for relief and hope. We cannot give what we do not have. It is only when we trust Jesus to forgive, cleanse, and renew us that revival becomes more than an unbridled resolution. Once we have experienced personal and corporate resuscitation we can share the life giving wind of God's Spirit with those around us. As the flight attendants remind us, "put your own oxygen mask on before trying to assist others."
I yelled for my 9-year-old daughter to “hurry up” so we could go do some catching. I had visions of walleyes running through my head. I was in such a hurry that I left the map of the lake behind. That was my first mistake.
Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks for the blessings we have received. How strange that right after giving thanks we rush out to get more, oftentimes at the expense of pushing others so that we might get there first. Lord have mercy upon us.
One of the things I have been sharing with each district is EXPECTATIONS. I firmly believe that unrealistic, or under-stated and unstated expectations are often the root causes of confusion, chaos, and disappointment. Allow me to share a few things that I expect of you and that you can expect from me as your new Bishop.
We’ve only just begun but the ride thus far has been great. It has not taken me long to discover three reasons why the Illinois Great Rivers Conference (IGRC) is a wonderful place to be. I’m sure that by the end of the year I will have discovered a dozen or more reasons but for one month, here are my observations: 1. IGRC folks are great at hospitality. 2. IGRC people are genuinely friendly. 3. IGRC members are extremely generous.