In just a few hours, folks will be gathering in the plenary hall for a very special “Celebration of Ministry” event tonight. Given the long hours that have gone before, it would be easy to blow this off as fluff and try to catch up on some sleep, or maybe even try to do some late night politicking before we hit the non-stop plenary sessions tomorrow.
You see, we have spent the past few days thinking quite a bit about the challenges that face the United Methodist Church. We have held up the mirror with a critical eye at our failings, and it would be easy to fall into despair about the state of our church. In fact, that was part of the intention of the IOT team’s presentation — to scare the church into embracing the changes we need.
And yet, while the horizon looks bleak in many ways, the United Methodist Church continues to do many, many wonderful things, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world in all sorts of ways. Tonight’s celebration reminds us of that, inviting us to celebrate that God continues to work through the people called United Methodist in spite of our failings and limitations.
I confess that as a long time attendee of General Conferences past, I’ve often been critical of the “dog and pony shows” put on by our general boards and agencies as fluff which took away time from the “important” work of the conference. But I was wrong in that assessment, for I failed to recognize that our hope for the future is directly connected to God’s actions among us in the here and now. I NEED to experience what God is doing in our midst, through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, in order to maintain hope that God has a future for us, and that I am part of something much bigger than the corner of 13th and Hadley Ave’s that I inhabit in Old Hickory, TN.
Trust me, after this week, you need this.
So come on over. Dress casually if you don’t feel like getting dressed, but come over anyway, for I believe from what I’ve seen in the preparations for tonight’s celebration that you will indeed be blessed.
The festivities start at 7:30 p.m., and will be live streamed.
Come see what we have done.