Dear St. Lukers,
The beginning of Bishop Will Willimon’s commentary on Acts Chapter 1 is entitled “Waiting and praying for restoration.” (Interpretation, pg. 19) The followers of Jesus are gathered hearing his calling for them to become witnesses to his life, death and resurrection to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Then they are told to wait. To sit together in worship, study, encouragement and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower them to fulfill this calling which would launch the church as we know it.
What a perfect title for the Methodist church in Florida this week… “waiting and praying for restoration.” This was the image for the first church and the image for all of us this week who call ourselves followers of the way of Jesus. As we wait for the celebration of Pentecost we recognize the restoration of the church and the community which needs to happen all around us. How do we answer the calling of the mission of Jesus given to the first disciples in unique and relevant ways to reach people in our neighborhoods, communities and the world? How will we as St. Luke’s continue the work of the first calling of Jesus to fill in the gaps of injustice, shout out the message of love that heals, and be a part of the work of restoration for those who have never found a church community or relationship with Christ? What is the individual callings each of us is being whispered by God, to follow, as I am, from grief, for service, in suffering, through others, within the call of Jesus Christ to his followers? Join Pastor Jad and me for celebrations in worship this week complete with music, dancers, aerialists, and the challenge to light up our worlds as we explore the Pentecost Scripture of Acts 2.
As you read this, five of your clergy and nine St. Lukers are attending the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Every year, Methodists gather to hold our annual business meeting which consists of reports of vital ministries, closing and birthing new churches and expressions of ministry, passing the conference budget, celebrating retirement, ordination and this year voting on our delegation for the 2020 General Conference. It is the work of the church in the state of Florida and every year is important but this is a critical year. How will we gather and pray, converse and worship as we gather for the first time after General Conference? What will the new delegation representing the hundreds of churches in Florida look like and what will be their work to resolve the division of our larger denomination? There is much work being done to stay in the difficult conversations, build community across lines, resist harm and renew and restore the larger church. We ask for your prayers of discernment, compassion, wisdom and faith in the power of the Holy Spirit which we pray will work in ways we cannot imagine.
As we move toward Pentecost may our daily prayer be not only for the restoration of the church and world, but a personal prayer asking Christ how each of us can play our part in such a calling.
Grace and Peace,
Your Clergy Team