“Jesus Wept.” As a child and teenager, it is the one verse of scripture I knew by heart. Over time, things have changed. Verses of scripture longer than two words have been learned. More importantly, I learned “Jesus Wept” had to do with the unexpected death of Lazarus. Most importantly, “Jesus Wept” held wonderful insights for families wrestling with the death of loved ones. Three insights have compelled me to say more. Consider the power of presence, the power of empathy and the power of resurrection.
Paul’s letter to the saints in Ephesians has some advice for us. While his salutation suggests his message is for the saints who are in Ephesus; his practical theology is applicable for gifted saints of the church universal, Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference notwithstanding. Who are the saints?
I invite the Laos to take up their God-given ministry, to function as the body of Christ and/or the people of God unafraid to love God and neighbor with an even greater passion. Should we accept God’s challenge in faith, we’ll accomplish “far more than we can imagine or think.” To do so, it takes the entire body of Christ gifted and committed to be in ministry and mission for God.
We had a wonderful spirit-filled Annual Conference June 5-8 in Peoria, due to the dedicated work of numerous volunteers, clergy and laity. Most importantly, we were led by a power greater than ourselves. So, I have laid the good to great things that happened directly at the feet of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
We indeed are "better together." Isolation and individualism undermine our better aspirations and potential. They are self-defeating. It is true in both church and society.
I frankly find this post-conference time exciting and exhilarating. It is energizing. A lot of that energy comes from your positive engagement of the mission. Conferencing apparently stirs many of us to think creatively about the future. This year is no exception. In the days following conference this year I have been inspired by those of you who have made contact to talk about your creative stirrings for ministry in our conference. These stirrings cover a wide territory from expanded opportunities for spiritual formation to deepening our partnership with Liberia and lots in between. And I say why not?
Bishop Palmer announces the theme and speaker for the 2011 Annual Conference.
Though the session is over, the robust energy and spiritual blessing abide. I pray the time on the proverbial mountain top will translate into continued fruitful ministry in all the congregations, ministries and communities of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference.
We started Annual Conference with many signs of faithfulness and fruitfulness. I am persuaded that the opportunity to celebrate and reflect together June 2-5 further positions us to have sharpened focus about the strengths we bring to address the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.