Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Once more the Holy Season of Lent is upon us!
Lent is the penitential season of the Church! It calls for introspection, penance, prayer and fasting. Lent is an ideal time to pratice these Christian disciplines and especially make quiet reflection part of your daily routine.
Marcus Aurelius, who ruled over the vast Roman empire, would each day take a moment to withdraw, reflect and journal how he could live and work better. In the film, The Gladiator, we catch a glimpse of him in a tent capturing his thoughts in his journal Meditations. We all need moments for reflection and renewal to discover our full potential and meaning and purpose in life
I am re-reading the updated edition of Donald B Kraybill’s provocative book, The Upside-Down Kingdom, as part of my Lenten journey. This resource unpacks the Bibilical teaching on the kingdom of God as a counter-narrative to the kingdoms of the day and powerfully reminds us of the cost of discipleship.
At the heart of the message of Jesus is the kingdom of God. He radically redefined God’s kingdom and claimed that power comes not from lording over others but through faithful service. Jesus inverted, or rather “subverted,” the traditional notion of the kingdoms of this world. He challenged the taboos of his time by inviting those on the margins of society to experience God’s love, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus was no impractical dreamer. He was quick to recognized the full potential of everyone he encountered and promised those who responded to God’s kingdom “life in all its fullness”(John 10:10). This promise still holds true for us today.
In this edition of the FFL we share stories of how the Methodist family is responding to God’s mission. We celebrate the second international dialogue between Methodists and Baptists and grant received by The New Room in Bristol historical site. Besides the stories of celebration, there are also articles about pain and hope from around the world. Last month, we sent out a prayer request to our Methodist-Wesleyan family to pray for a kidnapped missionary and all Christians who are targeted for their faith. We received several responses, expressing solidarity with the families of those affected. Finally, the Methodist Church in Fiji is taking seriously the call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. The president of the Methodist Church in Fiji, in a recent address, urged solidarity with the people of West Papua.
The program team and the host committee of the 21st World Methodist Conference have been hard at work. It is “all system go” as registration opens June 1, 2015. Additionally, in our up-coming First Friday letters you will be introduced to the stellar lineup of speakers and preachers who will be leading us as we gather for this “family reunion.”
In our prayers, let us remember the painful realities of life in Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Nigeria and other places of conflict, violence and tension.
During this holy Lenten Season, let us live in hopeful expectation as the beloved sons and daughters of God, heirs of the Kingdom.