Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Prophet at MSNBC

Everyone needs to read or watch this Special Commentary by Keith Olberman. He is indeed a prophet.

Where are the Church's prophets?

Singing our Faith Unites us in Love

As we pray for the Church during this season of conferencing, let us also sing. Here are a couple of hymns by Charles Wesley. They are two of a series of four hymns he wrote titled “Prayer for Persons Joined in Fellowship.” These hymns are Common Meter (CM). They may be sung to tunes such as AMAZING GRACE, AZMON, ST. AGNES, DOVE OF PEACE, etc. (see UMH page 926 for a complete lest of CM tunes). These hymns appear as #489 & #490 in A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (vol. 7 in The Bicentennial Works of John Wesley).

You'll also find selected stanzas of these two hymns in #561, "Jesus, United By Thy Grace," in The United Methodist Hymnal:


Try us, O God, and search the ground
Of every sinful heart!
Whate'er of sin in us is found,
O bid it all depart!

When to the right or left we stray,
Leave us not comfortless,
But guide our feet into the way
Of everlasting peace.

Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other's cross to bear;
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel [each other's] care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve;
Increase our faith, confirm our hope,
And perfect us in love.

Up into thee, our living Head,
Let us in all things grow,
Till thou hast made us free indeed,
And spotless here below.

Then, when the mighty work is wrought,
Receive thy ready bride;
Give us in heaven a happy lot
With all the sactified.


Jesus, united by thy grace,
And each to each endeared,
With confidence we seek thy face,
And know our prayer is heard.

Still let us own our common Lord,
And bear thine easy yoke,
A band of love, a threefold cord
Which never can be broke.

Make us into one Spirit drink,
Baptize into thy name,
And let us always kindly think,
And sweetly speak the same.

Touched by the loadstone of thy love,
Let all our hearts agree,
And ever towards each other move,
And ever move towards thee.

Tothee inseparably joined,
Let all our spirits cleave;
O may we all the loving mind
That was in thee receive!

This is the bond of perfectness,
Thy spotless charity;
O let us (still we pray) possess
The mind that was in thee!

Grant this and then from all below
Insensibly remove;
Our souls their charge shall scarcely know,
Made perfect first in love!

With ease our souls through death shall glide
Into their paradise,
And thence on wings of angels ride
Triumphant through the skies.

Yet when the fullest joy is given,
The same delight we prove,
In earth, in paradise, in heaven
Our all in all is love.

Prayers for Annual Conference Sessions

As we prepare for our respective annual conference sessions, I hope we all will take time to pray and to fill each conference with prayer. As we prepare to elect clergy and lay delegates to the 2008 General Conference, pray for discernment and a spirit of unity that those we elect will work to help The United Methodist Church move toward its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who will be his witnesses in the world and follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

To that end, here are some prayers (found in The Book of Common Prayer) for us to pray together, with the saints, as we gather for confernece:

For the Church
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy catholic Church.
Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purify it;
where it is in error, direct it;
where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen it;
where it is in want, provide for it;
where it is divided, reunite it;
for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

For the Mission of the Church
Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you
through your Son Jesus Christ:
Inspire our witness to him,
that all may know the power of his forgiveness
and the hope of his resurrection;
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Clergy and People
Almighty and everlasting God,
from whom comes every good and perfect gift:
Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy,
and upon the congregations committed to their charge,
the healthful Spirit of your grace:
and, that they may truly please you,
pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing.
Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator,
Jesus Christ. Amen.

For a Church Convention or Meeting
Almighty and everliving God,
source of all wisdom and understanding,
be present with those who take counsel
in the Annual Conference Session,
for the renewal and mission of your Church.
Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory.
Guide us to perceive what is right,
and grant us both the courage to pursue it
and the grace to accomplish it;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Unity of the Church
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
our only Savior, the Prince of Peace:
Give us grace seriously to lay to heart
the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions;
take away all hatred and prejudice,
and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord;
that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit,
one God and Father of us all,
so we may be all of one heart and of one soul,
united in one holy bond of truth and peace,
of faith and charity,
and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May your conference session be a time of true Christian conferencing that is a means of grace that lifts your spirit and heart to Christ and brings glory to his name and his mission for the world.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pursue Peace & Holiness at General Conference?

“Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

This verse was one John Wesley was drawn to many times. As the people of The United Methodist Church approach the 2008 General Conference, it would be worthwhile for all of us to spend some time meditating on the meaning of this verse. What kind of conference could we have if everyone, every caucus group, took seriously the command to “Pursue peace with everyone”? What could happen at a General Conference if the members took seriously the Wesleyan goal of pursuing holiness of heart and life?

I am tired of the constant bickering over homosexuality. It does nothing but distract us from our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. My fear is that it will ultimately lead to schism. And, if that happens, it will be a grave sin against Christ and his Church.

Rather than continuing the same old pattern of political posturing, argument, and character assassination, what if we actually followed Christ and pursued peace with one another and holiness of heart and life? Imagine what could happen at such a General Conference.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Excellent podcast from British Methodist Church

Michaela Youngson gave up shopping for Lent. She talks to Toby about the highs and lows of retail deprivation. The Revd Tom Quenet shares his thoughts on what we can learn from the churches of Latin America. Coordinating secretaries Anthea Cox and Jonathan Kerry are back with a slightly different fundraising idea...

Listen here: Methodist Web Radio