Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
As we enter the second month of the year and count down to the 21st World Methodist Conference in Houston, the common expressions; “time flies” and “so much to do, so little time” takes on new meaning for the Programme Committee and staff at Lake Junaluska. I am glad to report that it is “all systems go” but we look forward to the opening celebration in Houston 31 August when we can declare; “we have lifted off!” to another World Methodist Conference.
This year the Season of Lent begins four days before Valentine’s Day (the Feast of St Valentine). Legend has it that St Valentine was imprisoned and later beheaded by Emperor Claudius II in 270 AD for solemnizing marriages of soldiers and Christians. As I write, I am listening to Tina Turner belting out: “What’s love got to go with it, got to do with it, got to do with it” and I want to shout from the rooftops, “Everything, everything, everything…….” While we celebrate St Valentine with special cards, roses and gifts, Lent calls us to break with the routine and intentionally engage in self-examination, reflection and spiritual disciplines like the Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting. We’ve also gathered a list of Lenten resources to help you in your spiritual disciplines and in your ministry.
As we journey through this Lenten season, it is important to know what love looks like. Words are cheap; they need to be translated into action. Corinthians 13 describes what love is, but Romans 12:9-21 tells us in clear and certain terms what love does. It is sincere, discerning, affectionate, respectful, patient, generous, hospitable towards others and is marked by sympathy and empathy as well as harmony and humility. The only way we can produce this love is to know and experience God’s love for us through the work and witness of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that Roman 12:9-21 will become our Magna Carter as we seek to live out genuine love.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the second Vatican Council called by Pope John XXIII who, like Pope Francis, was a visionary who constantly pursued dialogue, peace and unity. On the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Dr Tim Macquiban had the honour of being one of 12 ecumenical representatives invited to the Papal Vespers at St. Paul’s Basilica. On 6 April the officers of the World Methodist Council together with other ecumenical partners will officially open the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome.
February is Black History Month in the United States. It was fitting that on 2 February, the U.S. Postal Service formally unveiled its Richard Allen Black Heritage stamp, honouring the legacy of Rev. Richard Allen the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This year the AME Church, birthed in protest against slavery and discrimination, which today has a global membership of more 2.5 million members in 30 countries celebrates its 200th Anniversary.
It is my hope that as you journey through this season of Lent, your eyes will be opened to God’s presence around you and your spirit will be infused with God’s loving energy.
With prayers and Blessings,