Bishop Ward: Wait, watch, receive God’s spirit

As the 2008 General Conference closes, delegates and other participants need to wait and watch so they can receive the ascended spirit of God.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Episcopal Area delivered that message in her sermon on May 2, the final day of the gathering at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

"God bless you as you go," she said. "How glorious it is to be a witness to the way God will be in the world beyond this place."

Tongans from across The United Methodist Church give the invocation. A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin.

Ward urged the delegates as they return to their homes to focus less on the decisions made and more on the things they learned. "We learned much about God," she said.

"Christ reigns in every place. Christ reigns over all that we are and over everything that we do. In this General Conference-ending day, we know that Christ is with us."

Joining Ward in the worship service were the Festival Choir from Christ United Methodist Church from Sugar Land, Texas, including soloist Barbara Johnson Tucker; the St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Choir of Dallas; and jazz pianist Eugene Lowry of Texas.

Ward based her sermon on Acts 1:6-11, where the disciples gathered with the risen Christ. However, He told them to wait for the time when God restores His kingdom that it was not for them to know the time of His coming. Christ then ascended into heaven.

Ward acknowledged that many people, especially those at a meeting such as General Conference, have a difficult time waiting and not knowing. "This was an invitation to wait, to remember there are things we are not to know," she said. "It was an invitation to receive the spirit, to be a witness."

Worship leader Marcia McFee offers an interpretive dance. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Ward shared the story of how United Methodists affected by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana were asked to bring shards of broken items to be part of a cross or handed out to delegates to the General Conference. A woman came to Heritage United Methodist Church in D'Iberville, Miss., with a bent spoon. She said she had held onto it for more than two years, not knowing why.

"Since the storm I have kept this bent spoon," the woman had said. "For some reason, I have not been able to throw this spoon away. Until now. I'm ready to let it go; let it go to someone at the General Conference."

"God is powerfully with us. Christ ascends. The Spirit comes," Ward said. "So, this day, let go. Wait. Watch. Receive."

*Woodrick is editor of the Mississippi Advocate.

News media contact: Tim Tanton or Kathy Noble, e-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org, or call (615) 742-5470.

Video

"Jesus is a Rock" performed by The Festival Choir of Christ United Methodist Church, Sugar Land, Texas

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward: "The Future That God Is Giving Us."

Related Articles

General Conference headlines

Resources

General Conference 2008

Ward Sermon Text: "Witness of the Wondrous"

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
Kevin Dunn presents an overview of U.S. United Methodist membership data to the General Council on Finance and Administration board during its Nov. 15 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. He is the agency’s director of data services. Among the bright spots he pointed to was the church’s growth in Hispanic and multiracial members. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

US dips below majority of membership

United Methodist leaders project that by now at least half of the denomination lives outside the U.S.
General Conference
Chart summarizes and compares proposals to General Conference 2020 about the future of The United Methodist Church. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Comparing plans headed to GC2020

This chart summarizes and compares proposals to General Conference 2020 about the future of The United Methodist Church. The chart does not include plans from individuals and may be updated after all legislation is published.
General Conference
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter speaks during an oral hearing before the United Methodist Judicial Council meeting in Evanston, Ill. Carter is president of the denomination's Council of Bishops. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Church exit plan already in effect, court says

But the United Methodist Judicial Council has no ruling on Traditional Plan questions from bishops.