A Moment for Mission
"Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you." —Psalm 26:2-3, NRSV
"I am honored to be your bishop and continue to praise God for what God is accomplishing through our shared ministry … of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," Bishop Tracy Smith Malone stated during her 2018 Episcopal Address to the East Ohio Annual Conference. "The mission is our grace-filled response to the reign of God in the world announced by Jesus.
"Friends, keeping an eye on our why," she continued, "gives greater understanding, clarity and direction to 'what we do' and 'how we do it' in the local church, in the conference and throughout the connection."
Challenging and encouraging United Methodists to be bold and courageous in their ministry, she shared ways the mission is alive in her conference.
The mission is alive, she said, through seven churches partnering to build relationships and to share the love of Jesus with the homeless. It's alive through a congregation using a ministry grant and working with the school district to start a monthly support group for grandparents who are raising grandchildren, and it's alive through a United Methodist church hosting a joint worship service with the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese Christian congregation of Refugee International Fellowship.
"Healthy churches grow healthy disciples. Healthy disciples," she advised, "disciple others. Disciples, transform the world."
Elected to the episcopacy in 2016, Malone—like all United Methodist bishops—benefits from local church support of the Episcopal Fund. Thank you!
—Adapted from East Ohio Annual Conference website
Loving God, bless our bishops, elected to shepherd our congregations in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Guide them to walk in faithfulness to you. Amen.
From Discipleship Resources: Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide – God of grace and goodness, your blessings in our life have been so abundant that when trials come, we become disoriented. Our needs have been so often met, that when we're challenged in life we wonder what's wrong, why isn't the world perfectly aligned to meet our desires? This morning we give our tithes and offerings, with hope that we might ground ourselves in gratitude for the blessing that we so easily come to take for granted. We pray for eyes to see clearly the bright mountains and the dark valleys, with grateful hearts for both. In Christ we pray. Amen. Job 1:1, 2:1-10
On World Communion Sunday, Bishop Leonard Fairley reminds us about gratitude.
"He was too young to understand it all," Fairley writes, "but there he stood, with hands cupped to receive the tiny piece of bread I'd torn from the loaf.…There was no way he understood all the nuances of this ancient and holy meal; yet, he said it again as he dipped his bread in the cup. It was a simple 'thank you' spoken from the grateful lips of a child. It was the gratitude in his eyes that made me realize that understanding it all didn't matter; this was and has always been a matter of the heart, a matter of the soul. Holy Communion is indeed 'soul food,' and the only appropriate response to such a gift of grace is 'thank you.'"
As we share the sacrament, let us remember to say "thank you" for the wonder of God's love and for our bishops, who shepherd us in our faith.
—Adapted from "A Message from Bishop Fairley," Kentucky Annual/Red Bird Missionary conferences, Sept. 8, 2016