Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Best of All God (Yet) With Us

Saturday, a week ago, we had a grand celebration of 200 years of Methodism in Alabama. Thanks to our North Alabama Conference Historical Society for providing us this opportunity to celebrate our heritage. From the Flint Circuit, we’ve grown to a strong, far flung Conference. This past month I’ve preached in two of the churches of the Flint Circuit (Shiloh and Ford’s Chapel). They have a grand 200 year history. The best of all, both churches are growing
The week before, at our Cabinet Retreat, I asked the District Superintendents, “What Biblical text have you found most helpful in your current ministry?”

One DS responded with Joshua 1:9 – “I was with Moses, I’ll be with you.” Joshua was reassured by God that even as God had supported and led Moses in the past, God would stand with Joshua in the present and future.

We have a wonderful past. We have huge challenges in the present. We wonder if we can show half the risk, creativity, and faith in a living, moving God that was shown by our forebears 200 years ago.

To us, as to them, God promises us that we need not face these challenges alone. God says to us, “I was with Lorenzo Dow (1803), I’ll be with you.” “I was with Matthew Parham Sturdivant (1808), I’ll be with you.” “I was with James Gwinn (1808), I’ll be with you. Therein is our hope for a future.

The last words of John Wesley were, “The best of all, God is with us.”

As we tackle our present challenges, as we hold ourselves accountable to the Conference Priorities, as Jesus demands our obedience to his Great Commission and the Great Commandment, the best of all is, God is with us.

William H. Willimon

“The weather is so bad today, there’s nobody out and about but crows and Methodist preachers.”"the Methodists around here are few in number, poor, and much despised."
- Comments heard in early 19th Century Alabama

5 comments:

foxofbama said...

Bishop:

I have had substantive conversations with a 60 something and 70 something UMC women in the last several days; two of your Methodist Saints.
One had read Woodward's book on Hillary Clinton. We were talking church and politics and that is how that came up; your name and Senator Sessions name came up as well.
The lady was proud of one of her hometown UMC products, now pastor of one of your more influential congregations in the state.
With the other lady I have every intention of sharing a copy of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. She will read the novel I think as a parable of many aspects of her own experience.
I sometime get cynical trying to figure out our mutual roots with the legacy of Roger Milliken, and now with Sessions; but point is you Methodists have a strong and glorious witness that continues to be Light in Alabama.
And we both know Jesus said how overwrought we can get with the politics on Earth, Jesus said Said his Kingdom was Not of This World.

God Bless

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