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: [email protected], 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 Conference
On Jan. 3, a 16-member group of United Methodist leaders offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. UM News will host a panel discussion on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation proposal at 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 13. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers

Leaders who helped develop a separation plan for The United Methodist Church answered questions about their proposal during a live event Jan. 13.
General Church
Delegates pause for prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. A group of 2020 General Conference delegates and other church leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines is proposing a new form of unity. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Delegates offer proposal for church unity

United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines are offering a “Christmas Covenant” and inviting others to sign on.
General Conference

Church future under negotiation before GC2020

United Methodist leaders of varied perspectives on LGBTQ status struck an optimistic note about conversations that aim to find consensus before the next General Conference.