Miles to go before we sleep…
Sept. 1 is our official anniversary as Bishop and Annual Conference. We have been together for one whole year. I wish you could see me doing my “happy dance.” I know there is a way to embed a video link, but that would not be a pretty sight. I do hope you feel like dancing, too! It has been a good year.
I am celebrating this milestone with you while remembering the words of Karen Carpenter, “We’ve only just begun.” The roads that we face as an Annual Conference, and the roads we face as a denomination are not smooth and paved.
There are many challenges in front of us. The good news is that we are on this journey together, and if we are determined to walk together, yoked with Christ, we will arrive where Christ leads. Our greatest challenges are not the roads we face, but in the temptation to lag behind or to run ahead of Christ. I believe our best option for moving forward is to remain committed to Christ and to one another. As we are yoked with Christ perhaps we will learn to trust him and allow him to show us a way forward.
I have discovered that the “yoke” we share with Christ has an elastic band on our side. We often call this elastic “freewill.” Christ allows us the freedom and the flexibility to choose whether we walk with him and with each another in harmony and agreement. The purpose of our being yoked with Jesus, per the Scripture, is that we will learn from him. My hope is that we will learn to love as Christ loves.
Robert Frost wrote a beautiful poem entitled, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” In this beloved poem, he writes:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
As we celebrate the completion of our first year together I am mindful that we have far too much to do to stand still and admire the view. Our Annual Conference continues to decline numerically, we are not making new disciples fast enough to keep pace with the rate of death and attrition in our congregations, and there are more ministry challenges emerging in our world community each day.
The recent onslaught of violence and hatred in Virginia is proof that the ministry and presence of our churches is needed now more than ever. Hurricane Harvey’s destruction highlight the continued importance of the church’s vital ministry of offering hope, help and healing in a variety of ways. The list could go on and on.
There are “miles to go before [we] sleep.”
Thanks for a great first year. I look forward too many more.