Speaking of Grace

I’m glad that my traveling days are over, at least for now. The latest travel was to Denver, CO for the 2013 Annual Conference of the Rocky Mountain Conference, June 13 – 16. The last day of the conference was Father’s Day and my son and his family came to the hotel we were staying for breakfast. Our grandson was very excited that he just had lost his first baby tooth (photo: Kaytum showing his missing tooth). He was proud of having “graduated” kindergarten with “good” marks. My conversations with Kaytum went like this: “How many times have you got in trouble during the school year?”(Raising index and middle finger) “Two times.” Just two?”  “Ya, just two big ones.”

Our church was well represented at the annual conference: Susan Baker as our lay delegate; Dorothy Anderson and Becky Buxton as district lay equalization members; and Maika Tukuafu representing United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR) West of Salt Lake. We missed the presence of our youth delegates this year. I want to make sure that we bring the presence of our young to the annual conference next year.

It was heart-warming to witness the synergy around the Imagine No Malaria campaign. United Methodist Church, in collaboration with World health Organization, United Nations Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among others, is spearheading the campaign to eliminate malaria in Africa. Rocky Mountain Conference has set the goal of raising 1.2 million dollars by April, 2014. Please find out more about the campaign in this newsletter and the conference web site, http://www.rmcbuzz.net/ . Our plan is to begin the campaign earnestly come September.

Finally, Rev. Brian McLaren’s keynote address was truly inspiring and insightful. While looking honestly into the declining trend of the mainline protestant churches including our denomination Rev. McLaren helped us to open us to the new ways God’s people faithfully imagining Christian ministries in the 21st century, especially among the younger generation. He urges us to make the shift from the “attractional” model of being a church to the “missional” model. The attractional model focuses on the physical location, on worship services and programs to attract people to the church, with the goal of making people church members. The missional model seeks to go out with Christ into the world wherever the Spirit of God leads us to be the hands and feet for God in the world. Discipleship, not institution, is the key motivation. We are people transformed by God’s unconditional love transforming the world. Christianity is more than the hope of eternal place after we die; fundamentaly it is seeking to build the Kingdom of God here and now. As Methodists we affirm wholeheartedly John Wesley’s unrelenting emphasis of the primacy of grace:

– Prevenient Grace, the grace that permeates throughout God’s creation and comes to us before we know God: “God loves us even when we don’t know it.”

– Justifying Grace, that accepting and pardoning grace: “God welcomes us and receives us as we are.”

– Sanctifying Grace, that is a purifying and cleansing process that continues throughout our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ: “God loves us too much to leave us where we are.”

As Methodists we seek “holiness of heart” (internal and personal) and “holiness of life” (external and public; bearing of fruits in the world). John Wesley taught that our faith is always personal but never private. May God’s all-consuming grace enfold you and me and our church.

“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” (John Wesley)

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