October 31, 2006
Council of Bishops 1st Meeting in Africa
After about a total of 18 hours we landed in Maputo, Mozambique on the 29th of October. This is my first trip to Africa and despite the excitement of the opportunity to journey back "home" I have arrived with the foreboding of being away from my family for a total of 14 days.
This is an amazing place. It is so beautiful and yet filled with so much poverty. However, the joy that we experienced when we walked outside of the terminal and were greeted by the "United Methodists" singing songs of praise and welcome in Portuguese that I did not understand washed away some of the sadness at being away from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. "Jesus, My Jesus" was being lifted up unashamedly and with great joy and celebration.
The hotel is wonderful and the workers are so congenial. Even as I key this in I can hear the laughter and many voices in Portuguese, English, French, and mixtures of native African tongues and I think to myself..."this is also my family – sisters and brothers – my relationship with Christ has given me." I am at peace and filled with joy but I am still looking forward to coming home.
October 24, 2006
Life is a Series of Adjustments
A very dear friend of mine often remarks "Life is a series of adjustments. And those who refuse to adjust will not make it in life." The one thing we all know is that life is unpredictable. This is especially true in corporate situations.
Whenever we are in a group setting, be that setting family, community, church, workplace, school or even a sports team we will be called upon to adjust to working with others. I believe that this is the source of some of the difficulty in being a part of the church. We are called not only to adjust our lifestyle but to do so while making new friends, giving our allegiance to new leaders, and following the principles and laws established by others that we often do not know and many who have gone on to glory. And we must do this today in the context of a more individualistic society than ever before. This is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst.
However, there is that scripture that goes like this, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."
October 09, 2006
They Changed the Rules On Me
What happens when someone or time changes the rules on you in mid-stream? This is the question that many of our United Methodist clergy are asking. They were trained to do ministry with a style that led them away from their emotions being involved as they carried out their ministerial responsibilities and fulfilled those roles of ministry. But, in today's climate more and more congregations are expecting pastors to display some level of excitement not just in words but in attitude and actions. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as more and more expectations are being placed on clergy to be great evangelists and inspirational speakers.
There are expectations that they become comfortable in raising money, become integral partners in the development of the communities in which they serve and that they are able to balance extreme theological positions within their churches. As a result, many are either choosing to retire early, make career changes, struggle through to retirement age arrives, fight battles that drain them of their energy, or hide out until it is all over.
I would submit that many of us need to find ways to retool ourselves that we may become more effective in today's climate and that requires a good hard honest look at our strengths and weaknesses. Many of us will need some help in making that transition. I believe our conference needs to find ways to offer clergy some choices that will help clergy to reshape themselves or at least some tools to help evaluate their ability to make those adjustments that are needed if they are to be effective in today's world.