Walking to the convention center this morning I stopped to enjoy some of the festival spirit on Main Street. There was a Run For the Cure taking place and a large festival raising money for the cure of breast cancer. To that group we probably don't even exist.
Arriving at the Convention center I noticed that the Soulforce witnesses had arrived overnight. Also, I had heard yesterday that over 200 scholarships had been given to bring in young people for the weekend who would stand in witness for Reconciling Ministries events. Now every time we enter or leave the Center we will walk the "gauntlet of niceness and phamplets."
Worship this morning emphasized the renewal of our baptism. Bishop Bill Hutchison's message was full of humor, but was direct in saying, "we have been baptized into form, but not into power." Based on the passage of Nicodemus (John 3) he reminded us of the danger of having the form of righteousness but not the power thereof, that with our baptism of structure, we need the baptism from above of God's spirit. He asked, "Have we moved from the "my, my, my" state of baptism to the "yes, indeed" state of baptism?"
Then confirmation class members from the North Central Texas Annual Conference walked among the delegates sprinkling us with water, as a reminder of our baptism. It was a very nice moment of connection. Is this who we are?
Then came a copy of the local paper with their article that simply wrote about "sensitive issues" to be addressed, focusing mostly on the issues dealing with homosexuals in the church. There was nothing there about the large crowds for our worship, or the worldwide ministries celebrated in the opening ceremonies, or the Nothing but Nets focus, etc, etc. Is this all we are to the media, a big conflict or fight that people will read about?
Finally, and I'm writing this as I listen to the report, we've been hearing the Report on Rural Ministries, and Town and Country Ministries. Volunteers came in with banners of 2500 butterflies, representing 2500 Places of Hope in rural settings. Some were riding P.E.T.s (Personal Energy Transportation) arm powered carts which are designed for people who have lost mobility. Visit their website to see how you could donate one.
Following that there has been story after story of the impact of small membership churches on individual lives, producing leaders for the church. We heard (and saw) many stories of outreach ministries and renewed churches. One story was about the St. Thomas Charge in the Charleston District of South Carolina. Their choir was here to lead us in singing. Great moment! Are We who others think we are?
This part of the Body of Christ called Methodists is a multi-facted, multi-personality, multi-conflicted, multi-blessed, and multi-gifted body. And out of all this there is yet one body and one spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, and one God and Father who is over all and in all, thanks be to God!