Seasons of Prayer
We're in the midst of Lent — a season of giving up and taking on, of being formed inwardly to bear fruit outwardly, a season of acknowledging our bondage to sin and celebrating the freedom of forgiveness by God's grace.
For many of us, Lent is a season of intense prayers of self-examination, of listening intently for God's continuing call, of repenting. Such a season allows us to greet Easter with rejoicing for forgiveness, for healing, for clarity of purpose, for assurance, for love, for all that God gives through Jesus Christ!
This year I ask you also to make the remainder of Lent a season of prayer for The United Methodist Church and to continue into Easter and through General Conference, April 24-May 4. You can share prayers with your brothers and sisters by using the "50 Days of Prayer" materials available on the General Conference website, GC2012.umc.org.
Separately and together, the proposals the 988 delegates to General Conference will consider hold the potential for major change in the way the denomination organizes to make disciples, to support congregations, to engage in ministry and mission in the name of all United Methodists. Without a doubt, there will be some changes.
And, yet, my concern is not so much with what the actual decisions on emotionally charged issues will be, but how they will be made. How will we, as a church, hear and be faithful to God's call? How will the delegates and the rest of us who gather in Tampa, Fla., and those who join the conversations from other places treat each other? Who will be hurt? How will healing begin?
So, please, pray for:
- Delegates and alternates, bishops, agency and caucus (official and unofficial) heads, for all who provide leadership in The United Methodist Church;
- Visitors who come with passion to influence outcomes and visitors who simply want to experience General Conference;
- Denominational staff and volunteers filling myriad roles;
- The 12 million-plus people of The United Methodist Church seeking to be faithful disciples.
As you pray, let these verses be your guide:
"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:15-22, NIV)
Praying with you and for you,
Kathy Noble, Editor