No man (one) is an island entire of itself; every man(one) is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…
John Donne (Meditation 17)
We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15b-16
I love trips to the local hardware store or home improvement centers. And I have no illusion of that I am DIY-ing -“Doing it Yourself.” I am one who walks into the Home Depot near me and quickly looks for someone in an “orange apron” to tell me the aisle and/or advise on “the project.” Earlier in my ministry we lived about two blocks from the local hardware store. In my quest to fix something, I would walk over to Howlett’s Hardware store and dump the contents of the bag or box on the counter and ask wise Mr. Howlett or his even wiser wife-“what do I need?” or “where should I start?”
In several congregations the United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women’s groups serve as “Wisdom wells,” where the collective wisdom of the people, many of whom have decades of experience, is shared or the Men’s breakfast group from several congregations joins forces to help with a larger project in one local church.
The often-used Donne quote “no man(one) is an island.” reminds us that none of us is self-contained. We need others! Our plunge into this global pandemic and social distancing has helped us realize how truly inter-connected we are. We need others’ services, expertise and relationships to get through a day and most certainly to thrive.
Local congregations working to update technology as well as create systems to keep people connected with each other have meant needing to build teams and work together in new ways. For those who solve all their “DIY” projects with duct tape and super glue…the challenges we are facing as local congregations, our wider Annual Conference and nation are big issues that call us to let go of the notion that “we can do it ourselves.”
Our upcoming Annual Conference, October 5 & 6 is a celebration and gathering for collective wisdom of the wider body of Christ. We are in connection, sharing in ministry to go deeper in faith. It will be a time in which we celebrate, in the midst of great upheaval. Congregations are stepping up with creativity and passion to care for neighbors and find new ways to worship online or safely as they reopen.
The Sunday before we gather for Annual Conference is Worldwide Communion Sunday, when as Christ followers gather for worship around the globe, sharing in Holy Communion from our various locations. It is time when we realize that we are all gathered together by the power and work of Jesus Christ and fed by His very real presence. We are gathered symbolically as a ONE expansive table from different countries, ethnic groups, political parties and across theological line, and we are fed nourishment for our soul through Jesus Christ. Many reading this will partake in the Lord’s supper on October 4. The Apostle Paul reminds us none of us can make it alone. We have different gifts and together we make ministry and mission happen.
It is important as we move toward Annual Conference and in this election season and harvest time across our nation, that we realize that there are big, important, complex issues and projects that we must address together. We have become only too aware of places where there are disagreements in our families, congregations, communities and country. What is needed is for us to realize “we are in it together,” there really is no true “DIY” and we must focus on what draws us together.
As I left Home Depot the last time, with my mask on and having social distanced, I smiled as I saw several delivery trucks arriving and thought about my “DIY” project and how it was supported by a global supply chain; those who made, transported, delivered and sold the parts to me. COVID-19 keeps reminding me how much I love being with others and working on a shared project. The projects have morphed to where feeding the hungry is “grab and go” bag meals or working on the Sunday online worship service editing “together” across the internet.
Glenn Conaway and I are thankful for each and every congregation in the Southern Region (that ROCKS) and for all of you that serve and lead, together, local churches connected in ministry working as part of the Body of Christ! The Charge Conference reports that some of you worked on and turned in this week are reminders of ALL that is being accomplished, in the midst of a challenging time, as we seek to be a GREAT Church–living out the great commission and the great commandment together. No “DIY” here!