A Moment for Mission
"It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" — Matthew 4: 4, NRSV
As we enter into the season of lent, our eyes turn to Jesus and his temptation in the wilderness. With each challenge, Jesus was able to turn to Scripture even while he was weak. It was Jesus' knowledge of Scripture that helped him overcome temptation.
Many things tempt us today, compete with our attention, and can leave us feeling defeated as individuals and as the church as a whole. As it was with Jesus, knowing Scripture and allowing it to guide how we respond to temptation is how we can overcome temptation, both as individuals and as the church.
Our pastors are charged with teaching and preaching the Word, proclaiming the gospel. In so doing, the people of God are equipped with Scripture and teaching that enables them to face those temptations and act as Christ would under the best and worst of circumstances.
In The United Methodist Church, our bishops hold the responsibility of placing and supporting pastors in local churches, as well as unifying the church. Our generous giving toward our apportionments — specifically gifts to the Episcopal Fund — supports the work of our bishops. This fund covers the salaries, housing, expenses and pension of our bishops.
When we support our bishops, they are able to lead us in engaging in ministry with the poor, improving global health, developing principled Christian leaders, and creating new and renewing congregations.
God, in moments where division is more common than unity, grant us patience, love and courage that we might continue living as one church in Christ Jesus. Grant wisdom to the bishops, district superintendents and pastors as they are leading us, your church. Amen.
From Discipleship Resources: First Sunday in Lent - Forgiving God, you bring us the joy of salvation! Your steadfast love surrounds those who trust you. We are grateful that you nurture us with your Word. By your Spirit, help our congregation draw closer to you, even as we reach out to share your good news with our neighbors. We dedicate our tithes and offerings in the name of your faithful Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. (Psalm 32)
John Wesley is credited with saying, "I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship and the whole world for my mission field." Early on, it seems that Wesley had an idea that unity and wholeness were important in the Scripture, as well as in the church.
It is in this spirit that our United Methodist Church has organized itself in such a way that the church has a method of maintaining unity. That involves appointing people to keep an eye on the direction and unity of the church.
Those doing this important work are our bishops. Bishops are clergy elected from the five jurisdictional conferences who are charged with the task of working toward unity in the whole church. Bishops also do the work of guiding, supporting and appointing pastors to local churches.
We support this important work of the bishops through our apportionment giving to the Episcopal Fund.