Living Before the World What God Intends for the World
Over the last few days I spent a bit of time reading through the material for the 2011 Annual Conference. Alongside that I grazed through passages relevant to the work of the Annual Conference in the 2008 Book of Discipline.
I was struck by a few things. The scope of our work certainly struck me. I was moved again about the power of conferencing and connection. I am convinced that these to pieces go together. Each complements and enhances the other. As I worked through a first reading of our pre-conference material I was gripped by the opportunity that lies before us.
While we are together in Peoria we will engage in worship and learning. We will engage in decision making that is budgetary, legislative and electoral. It’s what we do. We are practiced at it. But aside from our actions perhaps the real question, challenge and opportunity before us is how will we act? How will we act in relationship to one another, the world and God?
Nearly two decades ago while serving on a general agency of our church a colleague and friend was addressing that body. One of the gems that he uttered has not left me since that time. I cannot recall now whether he was quoting someone else or if the words were original with him. But he said “God asks us (the church) to live before the world what God intends for the world”. That is a high calling and by God’s grace I intend to do my best to live that way in community with you. I hope and pray that this is your intention also. Whenever and wherever we are we are making a witness. The only outstanding question is whether we are making a good witness to the Risen Christ or not.
The writer to the Colossians offers this helpful counsel:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)