Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
I trust that you had a joyful Christmas with family and friends and that the New Year will be filled with rich blessings.
The Advent season was about expectation, watching and waiting while Epiphany, commemorated on 6 January, concludes the twelve days of the Christmas season. Epiphany is about “revelation” and “call”; the call of the wise men (Magi); the call of Jesus to his baptism; the call of Phillip, Nathanael, Peter, Andrew and the disciples. More importantly, Epiphany is about your and my call to transform the world.
During the holiday season, it was refreshing to once again read the theological classic by J. B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small. He argues that for many people God is only in the pages of the Bible and in the hygenic safety of their churches. God, the Creator of the whole cosmos, cannot be “boxed”. Through the Incarnation, God takes on human flesh, becomes one of us for our redemption and is engaged in every aspect of our lives.
One of the most heartwarming things while on holiday in Cape Town was to see how people of different faiths shared in acts of goodwill and charity during the joyful Christmas Season. These expressions of sharing and caring in a world of growing inequality is a powerful reminder that we share a common humanity and a common planetary home on earth in which we are all responsible for one another. Both practically and theologically we are responsible for each other, and this is the reason why our mutual responsibility goes beyond national boundaries, color or creed. In Cape Town, I was very impressed by a group of Imams who issued and open invitation, “to people of other religions to visit mosques on Christmas day to create a better understanding of the life of Jesus Christ in Islam”. Perhaps we should think about issuing similar invitations in our communities if we are not already.
In this issue of the First Friday Letter, it is apparent that Christ is being shared around the world and that the Methodist/Wesleyan movement is alive! Missions and Youth events are equipping believers to be witnesses to God’s abiding love in their communities. We are excited about a partnership with SMU Perkins School of Theology to offer Continuing Education Seminars at the 21st World Methodist Conference in Houston! In December 2015, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church celebrated 145 years of ministry, and next month, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Richard Allen will be honored with a United States Postage Stamp.
On behalf of the President of the World Methodist Council and staff at Lake Junaluska, we wish all our readers a happy and prosperous New Year. May you feel the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit as you embrace the opportunities and challenges that 2016 holds.