There are things that signal the beginning of the precious days of summer—school gets out, days get longer, leaves and flowers return, and the grass turns green. In the life of the church we change worship time, take a break from some things, and celebrate a day called Pentecost. As I write the day is coming, but as you read this, the day will have passed—but not the intent of that day, nor the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
That day when the Spirit was so profoundly manifest may never be fully realized by us, yet that does not mean that the Spirit is not alive and working. The questions for us become are we aware of the presence of the Spirit? Do we WANT to be aware? How might we learn to respond more fully to the workings of the Spirit within and around us? What might it mean for us as a community of faith now and into the future?
We have some challenging days ahead with another thing of summertime, Annual Conference. That is the time when all of the churches in our Conference (the Dakotas) gather to do the business of the church. This year we are facing the challenge of splintering the denomination as well as unfortunate misinformation and a fair degree of confusion. With that comes hurt, pain, and ongoing trust issues. During the Conference, we WILL call upon the Holy Spirit. Most certainly God’s Spirit will be present and working, but it will be up to each person to choose to listen and respond. Because we are all human, we are inclined to hold fast to long-held beliefs, and may not wish to hear something new, so the challenge for us is great.
As a United Methodist Church—we undertook the challenge to define our values this past fall. A good cross-section of our people was there and it was a meeting with a good and positive outcome. We are on track to remain solidly United Methodist. However, what that looks like for the future is unknown. We will likely be defining and refining for some time into the future as things unfold, change, and restructure. Through it all, may we choose to be open to God’s Spirit and continue to answer the call to be the Body of Christ for the world as we worship, serve and fellowship together. Do add me, your pastor, and your Lay Delegate, Susan Beckler, to your prayers as we head into this summertime event fraught with so many unknowns. Do continue to pray that each one of us becomes more and more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this can become our daily morning prayer throughout summer —it can’t hurt and maybe will help!
New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. —Amen