Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord – Psalm 27:14
I seemingly spend my days waiting. Waiting for a phone call, waiting on a project approval, waiting in traffic, waiting in line. Although I should be an expert at waiting, because I have been forced to wait all my life, I am just not good at waiting. I can remember as a child the exasperation of waiting for Christmas, or my birthday or summer vacation. As I got older I came to recognize waiting is a fact of life, but the reasons for waiting can be more challenging. We wait up for children, for the test results, or that job offer. How about you? How do you manage waiting? I find myself getting fidgety and anxious while I wait. Some people get bored, others get angry. Most people agree its plain hard to wait.
Our denomination is in the midst of a difficult season of waiting. Many faithful members are stressed and concerned about the future of our denomination. It is easy to slip into speculation and disillusionment, which leads to a loss of hope. Each of us is faced with a choice how will we choose to wait for the discernment of 2019 Special Session of General Conference.
In his 2018 Episcopal Address to the Annual Conference, Bishop John Schol called the people of Greater New Jersey to prayerful wait. The United Methodist Church has offered resources and direction on praying and fasting while we wait.
Bishop Wallace-Padgett, who is leading the denominational movement, shared what is at the heart of this call to prayer, “Our prayer focus is two-fold: We are praying that God will help us to fulfill the mission of the church, and we are praying to be one in Christ.” In prayer we will humbly set aside our personal concerns and ask that the Holy Spirit direct our denomination.
If you wish to participate in the denominational call to prayer, you may do so by visiting umcprays.org. This resource offers daily reflections, materials for local churches as well as an invitation to participate in a weekly Wesleyan fast. The Upper Room has been intentional to assure that contributors put aside their own perspectives in order to provide safe space where all can fully and honestly pray.
While reflecting on waiting I have recognized that a season of waiting can prepare me for the future. Waiting requires me to be humble; I cannot always get what I want when I want it. Waiting allows me to step back and deeply consider all possibilities. Sometimes waiting offers a rest while other times it inspires action. Waiting is never wasted when I invite God into the process.
As the champion for the Annual Conference prayer ministry, I am encouraging you to consider a commitment to prayer for one another as we approach the Special Session of General Conference to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis. All are invited – clergy, laity, small groups and congregations across Greater New Jersey, to pray for God’s guidance each day.
Will you join me in prayer?