From the District Superintendent

Bring all Your Requests to God

Posted 15 January, 2019 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

Pensive Jesus (as I called the painting in my mind) grabbed my attention in worship. From where I sat that morning my view of the framed painting behind and above the pulpit and choir loft was unimpeded. I had never seen it from such an unobstructed vantage before and really I could not look away. It held my focus in the same way paintings of Jesus laughing do ... so startlingly different from much church art. Jesus, lost in thought or deep in prayer, is seemingly oblivious to the eruption of the rising sun, or perhaps it was the final fade-out of a setting one.

What moment is the artist conveying? Just before Jesus left his private and anonymous life behind and walked down to the Jordan to be baptized by John? Or perhaps it in the moments afterward, when the heavens had opened, and a dove descended, and God's voice had clearly called him "beloved."Or was it in the days of isolation and hunger and temptation? Was it after Jesus had proclaimed a fulfillment when reading from Isaiah's scroll in the synagogue and then been chased out of his home town? Or was it as Jesus prepared to call those first disciples, who could it, should it, will it be? What will they leave behind and what will they gain? Is it after a hard day or season of healing bodies and easing minds and challenging lives and restoring spirits? Is it when Jerusalem, Gethsemane, and Calvary are in view?

Pensive Jesus is the image I will carry with me as our denomination approaches the called General Conference in late February. What deep prayer is Jesus even now undertaking on our behalf? When the conference has debated and politicized and prayed and discerned and voted and reacted, what will Jesus do then to call us, claim us, change us, and transform us?

 6 Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God
that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7, CEB)


The painting hangs in Parrish Chapel UMC in Vinton and was painted by deceased member Margie Jones.