Of late, I have preached a number of Birthday Sermons for local churches. Histories of faith-filled persons who took the initiative to build a church or enhance its ministry touched me deeply.
In 2012, your former pastor, Janice Ringenberg invited Bishop Palmer to be guest preacher for the 125th Anniversary. Schedule and a new assignment made that impossible. So the invitation came to me. Ringenberg emailed a second invitation to my secretary Tuesday, September 14, 2013. When she requested a visit in August or September 2014, I declined. My calendar had already been scheduled. Undaunted, Pastor Janice asked if the Bishop could come any time in 2014. Anytime was a winner.
Did you ever see Walt Disney’s Pinocchio? One voice and excerpted lyrics rocked my world. Nestled in the comforting and quiet pathos of a nocturne, Jiminy Cricket sang passionately and prophetically, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires, will come to you.” Those words and that cartoon taught me to believe in the power of a dream.
Born in Moline, Illinois on June 1, 1842, his parents were Methodists. Twenty years later, this young man was class valedictorian and graduate of Illinois Wesleyan with a B.A. degree. Garrett Biblical Institute handed this scholar a B.D. degree in 1868. After one appointment in Pekin, he left Illinois for pastoral ministry in “The Big Easy.” Soon, trouble ensued in New Orleans. This white pastor became an advocate for African Americans. As pastor, DS, publisher and delegate to General Conference, he initiated open seating at his worship services, started schools, established a hospital, worked with the Freedman’s Aid Society and published the Southwestern Christian Advocate “to promote Methodist work among African Americans.”
A reality of life is that very few people have become adults and gone through college without having developed some ways naturally to deal with stress. Most often we have developed some behaviors that helped us deal with problems of life that helped us. As we grow we have a tendency to move away from what helped us in the past because our live situations change and our life patterns change. Then when stress builds we may be at a loss on what to do to deal with it.
What does this mean for a congregation on the journey for 150 years? “You have not because you ask not.” One songwriter declares that the people of God regularly, “forfeit their peace, bear needless pain”; because they refuse to, “take everything to God in prayer.” Whatever your needs church, you have to, “keep praying and not lose heart”, like the widow before the unjust judge.
When I see the blood, I think Christ our Passover. He is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. When I see the blood, I know forgiveness of my sins. When I see the blood, I know Christ is a rock in a weary land, a bridge over troubled waters. When I see the blood, I know Christ is a God of our weary years and a God of our silent tears, a God who will let the oppressed go free.”
Usually, there are three major seasons in the life of a District Superintendent: Charge Conference Appointment and Summer time for pastoral consultations.
As I think about the prayers that our friends and members of the United Methodist Churches in Liberia pray for us, it is our time to continue to lift them and their country before the throne of God. I personally know of two women who often fast for our conference teams traveling to Liberia for a full 21 days and many often fast and pray for IGRC on Wednesdays or Fridays of each week. It is time for Illinois Great Rivers Conference to faithfully pray for this situation.
Today, more than 5,000 Kingdom dreamers have graduated from Africa University. They are making disciples and transforming the world. These graduates are doctors and nurses, engineers and teachers, social workers and government leaders. Through them, Kingdom dreams are becoming reality.