From the District Superintendent

Hope

Posted 18 March, 2019 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

I had hoped for more from last month's General Conference. I had hoped that the call for unity would enable us to honor Jesus' call that we all be one rather than any "us" and "them."  I had hoped that conferencing together would model holiness in conversation rather than divisive rhetoric to a broken world. I had hoped that united in one mission we could overcome divides of language, culture, and theology. I had hoped that the General Conference could mirror the strength of local congregations where congregants hold many different, and sometimes opposing, views about any number of theological, political, and social issues and yet are united in following Jesus to make disciples and serve the least, offering hope and healing.  I had hoped that the United Methodist Church would emerge more connected rather than more fractured. 

I realize that my litany of "had hoped" echoes the words in Luke 24:21. On the road to Emmaus Cleopas and another disciple encounter another traveler with whom they share their hopes and disappointments and perplexities and even wonder. The traveler challenges their assumptions and conclusions and present sense of hopelessness. When the traveler breaks bread at table, they suddenly recognize him as Jesus crucified and risen. 

Where is Jesus, perhaps in a guise unrecognizable, meeting us, engaging with us, challenging us, offering us hope in brokenness and new life in death? Into what places of hurt, disappointment, woundedness, and despair can you walk with Jesus? What word or action of hope and life can you offer in Jesus' name?  So then, from this point on we won't recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn't how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people's sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ's representatives, "Be reconciled to God!" God caused the one who didn't know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Common English Bible

With hope and peace,

Kathleen