Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bishop's Column: A Star and a Gift

This is the season of Epiphany.

It is a time marked by our remembrance that wise ones of old left home to follow a star and to honor a king.

I’ll not retell the story; you likely know it well.

It is enough, I think, to remember that these learned astrologers caught a vision that changed their lives. It inspired them to set out on a journey that took them far from home, far from their “comfort zone.” It was a journey that may well have cost them as much as four or more years out of their lives.

All because they believed that God was doing something special in history and they needed to respond, to “pay homage.”

They brought gifts – precious gifts – and gave them as a witness that God’s sign had been seen and responded to.

People are still seeing signs of God’s activity in our time, signs of God’s saving grace at work in our world. And wise ones are still responding with gifts – gifts that are precious to them – as a witness in our day and time.

Gifts like time and treasure and even their very lives, all because they have been captured by a vision that will not leave them in their comfortable places. A vision that summons them to leave home and even safety to go and tell others what they have seen.

To be captured by a vision of Jesus, and Jesus’ great commission to all who call themselves disciples, is to be invited – even compelled – to leave the places where we have become comfortable in order to give our witness to what God is doing now and in the New Year.

One of the things that has captured our Bishop, and I have come to discover as well, is the vision of what we can do together as the people of The United Methodist Church we cannot do separately.

We see needs, like stars on the horizon, and we are able to respond in life-changing ways. These needs do not always have dramatic names or eye-catching videos, but they are making a difference.

They are the things we do connectionally to multiply our “loaves and fish” into bread for the world and answers to prayers.

Things like The World Service Fund, which helps build new churches and pay the salaries of missionaries and provides leadership for youth ministries and more; The Black College Fund which helps the 11 historically Black United Methodist-related colleges and universities maintain solid, challenging academic programs, strong faculties and well-equipped facilities; The Ministerial Education Fund, which enables our church to continue its commitment to recruit and educate quality pastoral leadership by helping defray the steep costs of getting a seminary education as well as equipping our annual conferences with continuing education for local pastors; and The Episcopal Fund, which pays the salaries and office and travel expenses for 50 active U.S. bishops and 19 active international bishops, as well as pension and health benefit coverage.

They are all ways that our pennies can become hundreds and even thousands of dollars that are changing lives.

We have all seen what six million United Methodists in the United States can do when disaster strikes, whether it is New Orleans and the Gulf Coast or in Haiti. What you may not have seen or heard as clearly is the difference you are making in the lives of people everyday through our shared ministries as a connectional church.

We join hands around the Connectional Table and literally hundreds of ministries are underwritten and scores of people are employed here, in the United States, and to the far corners of the world. We are transforming the world. Forgive us for not saying so often enough.

But what you are doing is “a light on a hill” or a “star in the sky” and it is time we said so, loud and clear!

--excerpt from a blog by Bill Dobbs,
Clergy Asst. to the Bishop of MI area

God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

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