The church always must be aware of the needs of people and be ready to meet those needs with the "fresh bread" of faith, hope and love, said Bishop Ernest S. Lyght in his sermon to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference.
Preaching April 28 on Jesus' parable of the man who knocks on a neighbor's door at midnight asking for bread, Lyght said people facing their "midnight hour" are waiting at church doors for a helping hand.
"The United Methodist Church must be prepared to respond," said Lyght, who presides over the church's West Virginia Area. "It is not the time of day that matters; what matters is the time of crisis in the life of one of God's children."
Lyght quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who portrayed the church as having three loaves of bread: "the bread of faith, the bread of hope and the bread of love."
He said the church must instill in people confidence in the future and a hope that "rests on Jesus Christ, the solid rock."
"Love," Lyght said, "is at the pinnacle of our God relationship and our human relationships."
"Remember, we are a church that dares to say to the world: 'Open Hearts, Open Minds. Open Doors. The people of The United Methodist Church.'"
'Wake up, church!'
The bishop listed some of the world's problems including war, poverty and disease, and said, "Wake up, church! Get up, church! When men, women and children knock on the doors of the church, they are looking for fresh bread. They want to encounter a vibrant faith. They want to embrace hope for tomorrow. They want to experience extravagant love that includes them."
Lyght said the church can keep "the bread fresh" by participating in a devout prayer life, regular Bible study, worship, small groups and Christian education.
"We are The United Methodist Church," he said. "We must respond to the midnight hour in the lives of people and nations."
*Burger is the communicator for the United Methodist West Virginia Annual (regional) Conference.
News media contact: Marta Aldrich, e-mail: email@example.com.
Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470.
- General Conference 2008
- A Message from West Virginia Bishop Ernest S. Lyght
- West Virginia Annual Conference