Dear Harbor Readers,
Grace and peace to you this rainy and yet hot July morning! (Written July 19) Isn’t it good to know we are people of God, people of hope? I spent the weekend reflecting on the blessings of getting to know you, clergy and laity, throughout the district. I don’t have one congregation I relate to anymore, and that has saddened me more than once. I have mourned the relationships that have fallen away now that I am no longer “that person’s” pastor. And yet, I am finding that so many of you are praying for me, praying for your pastors and your congregations, my heart is bursting with joy.
Prayer is something we know we should do. We offer prayer fairly readily when we see or talk to a friend in need. We say, “I’ll pray for you.” I remember the first time a friend took that to the next level. She was worried about me; I was worried about me! I was overwhelmed with life. So she said, “I’ll pray for you. Let’s walk over here, out of the way, and pray right now.” And she did. She prayed a heartfelt prayer; she prayed as one friend prays over another. And she taught me that prayer is an action; we can promise to pray – and then we can simply pray.
This week there is a passage from Ephesians in our lectionary that is a wonderful prayer in chapter 3, verses 14-21. Paul is offering this prayer to the readers of this letter, people for whom he cares so much. I offer this prayer to you as the laity and clergy of the district, as faith-filled United Methodists, as people who are carrying out the mission and calling of Christ Jesus.
For this reason,
I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth
takes its name.
I pray that, according to the riches of [God’s] glory,
[God] may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being
with power through [God’s] Spirit,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend,
with all the saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to [God] who by the power at work within us
is able to accomplish abundantly far more than
all we can ask or imagine,
to [God] be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever.
I am offering this prayer for each of you as I work today. I am praying for each clergy and their congregations by name as we begin this new year together. Why?
Because prayer is an action. I often tell you in this letter I am praying for you. And I do – and – there are many of you! So my goal is to pray for all my pastors and congregations by church name over the course of this day. If you are like me, when I begin to pray, God opens my eyes to see more clearly. God offers up solutions, resources, people who are called . . . God opens doors when we pray. The light turns on when we pray. We may not understand immediately how or what or why the revelation matters, but we are moved toward God’s understanding which is so much greater than our own! My hope is that you will pray for your church, for one another, and for our connection as we do ministry across the Harbor District.
I started visiting with churches during worship several weeks back when masking was lifted. I am looking forward to being with you as a worshipper, as a DS, and as a time to meet you face to face. I know worship is not always the best time to talk with clergy; I am holding coffee sessions with pastors about every two weeks between now and late September. We may add some sessions later in fall if possible! If your church has an event, a special Sunday, a fund raiser you would like for me to attend, please let me know! I am placing these on my calendar so that I can spend time with congregations and get to know you all.
Our district Set-Up Meeting is being offered twice, in person, during the month of August. On Aug. 17, we will gather in person at Lake Waccamaw UMC, 10-11:30am or at Wallace UMC 7-8:30. We will welcome newcomers, look at the year ahead, and spend some time re-membering in worship and holy communion. I look forward to being with you all in various ways over the next few weeks. Join me in praying for one another. And may God who “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” be with you and work alongside you! May God’s peace be with you.
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