Grace and Peace in the name of our Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Three-in-One and One-in-Three living in perfect unity!
A few days ago we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. The liturgical colors changed from red to white and now green. The calendar of the church now moves into what is called Ordinary Time or Kingdom Time until the celebration of Christ the King and Advent in late November. As we move with the rhythm of life, I pray that we will fan into flame the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 1:6).
The Spirit fanned the gift of love into flame in the lives of the first believers in ways they never expected. When the Spirit empowers and transforms, it cannot be “business as usual.” After the martyrdom of Stephen, the early disciples moved beyond Judaism’s boundaries to Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8. ). Peter then reached out to an Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37). They went even further as Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Regiment, was welcomed into the community, much to the irritation of “proper” Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18). The community expanded as they shared the love of God with Gentiles in Antioch who responded to the Gospel (Acts 11:19-21). God’s grace is for all.
The Holy Spirit promises to be our Comforter and Guide, and we are invited to replace fear with the transforming power of the Spirit in our lives. Some of these gifts in I Corinthians 12:8-10 include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Romans 12:7-8 and Ephesians 4:7-13 mentions additional gifts which include teaching, serving, compassion, love, mercy and justice.
Jesus breathed on his first disciples and said; “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so, I am sending you…. Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22). We have a Divine mandate as we continue the healing and reconciling ministry of Jesus. Let’s fan into flame God’s gifts in us so that the world may be more like God’s plan for it.
Last week the World Methodist Conference 2016 Program Committee was graciously hosted by the Texas Annual Conference in Houston. We began the countdown to our quinquennial Conference with a presentation, a promotional booth and an invitational video. We are excited, and preparations are well underway to welcome the global Methodist family to the United States of America after forty five years. The last Conference in the continental U.S., was held in Denver in 1971.
Many Annual Conferences will meet in June and I want to encourage Bishops and Presidents of member churches as well as Council members to promote the work and witness of the World Methodist Council. I will attend the Switzerland-France-North Africa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in Aarau, Switzerland, to present the World Methodist Peace Award to Hugh and Shirliann Johnson, former missionaries to Northern Africa. I will also spend time at the Presbyterial Session of the British Methodist Conference in Southport, England.
Thank you for the generous response to the appeal of the people in Nepal. We appreciate the work of Stop Hunger Now who worked with the Church of the Nazarene Eurasia to bring relief to the area.
It is with sadness that we learnt of the passing of Prof. Dr. Almir de Souza Maia of the Methodist Church of Brazil, a longtime member of the World Methodist Council Education Committee and founder of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU). Prof. Maia will be greatly missed by the World Methodist family.
Let us go into the new season empowered by the Spirit in the knowledge that God is greater than the giants and storms that might confront us on our journey.