Happy New Year!
This week, the 8 districts of the NC Conference, have the honor of beginning a year of prayer for unity that taking place all across The United Methodist Church. That’s a huge blessing and one I invite you to share in fulfilling.
The Church of Jesus Christ has always been troubled by divisions over all sorts of issues and topics, some theological, some about how to live as a Christian in a broken world, and some about our ethics. Today is no different. Just now, questions about human sexuality, especially homosexuality are in the center of our discussion and arguments.
The 2016 General Conference left The Book of Discipline unchanged. The Conference also asked The Council of Bishops to appoint a commission, called “The Commission on a Way Forward” to reflect on what such a way forward would look like, given the impasse we have been at in regards to questions of sexuality and orientation for the last several decades. This spring The Judicial Council will make several rulings in connection to actions various parts of the Church have taken concerning related matters. So our Bishops are also asking that we pray to remain united in the middle of such intense and personal discussions.
Our NC Conference has the honor of being the first of the USA Conferences to officially have a week to pray. The Capital District’s Day to Pray is this Saturday, January 7. I would ask you for the following:
- Set aside some time that day to pray for our church and its unity.
- As a model prayer you might use one of these three prayers you can find in The United Methodist Hymnal:
The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer (No. 607), [I use a form of this powerful and challenging prayer each day myself in my devotions.]; or,
Litany for Christian Unity (No. 556)
For the Unity of Christ’s Body (No. 564). This prayer evocatively asks for “magnanimity and restraint”. I invite you to contemplate those gifts.
- Make a plan to gather with a few other United Methodist Christians to pray
Read John 17 where Jesus prays for us to be one for the sake of the world and our witness to our neighbors
Plan other activities related to your prayer time.
I myself will fast for the day. Fasting is a biblical practice—which John Wesley urged on us. Fasting isn’t about self-deprivation but about concentrating: when I don’t eat or feel hunger pains during that day, I use that time and energy to devote myself to prayer for what I really long for: the unity of Jesus’ Body.
It is a Happy New Year: because we are alive in the Spirit and called by Jesus to be the Church. A Happy New Year because we enjoy the opportunity to openly pray for our Church and for our witness.
Join me in praying for the Church this Saturday, January 7, wherever you are.
God will hear and God will answer.
Thanks be to God!
If you would like to print or share this version of Hello from Harvey, you are encouraged to use this pdf: HELLO FROM HARVEY