SpiritStirrer

sojourner, hearer, & follower of Jesus

Tag: Louisiana

Why #givegrace?

© All rights reserved by mollie | corbett | photography

© All rights reserved by mollie | corbett | photography

This past Sunday we gathered as a community to eat together and to hear about how our financial resources continue to allow us to live into God’s call for our life together as a congregation. Some of us met each other for this first time — over half of attendees at the meal have been with us twelve months or less — others were able to finally catch up with friends and neighbors.

We have much to celebrate. Our children and youth ministry continue to grow and each weekend we have many guests that are looking for a place to call home. Those that are new to our community speak to our welcoming atmosphere as a primary reason why they choose to return. Our new people describe our congregation as loving, kind, and filled with energy. Wherever I go in Shreveport folks tell me that they have heard great things about our church.

We are blessed in so many ways!!

As I walked away from our time together on Sunday afternoon I began to wonder about the impact that our congregation has had, is having, and will have in the future. I began to wonder about the stories that illustrate our impact, that tell of the many ways that we are encountering God in this place and of the ways that this place is helping each of us see God in places unexpected.

I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we have received it!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we cannot help but respond in generosity!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we know that our congregation is needed in this city and beyond!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because there are so many children, youth, and adults experiencing God’s unconditional love!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we are finding healing from our addictions, freedom from the things that keep us bound, and redemption into new life, abundance, and joy!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we are a unique community called by God to provide a place for ALL people!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because everywhere I go I meet people who have disconnected from the church and are looking for a place where they can be who God has called them to be!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because our identity is rooted in service of neighbor, especially those who would be easily forgotten, who have been ignored!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we have been called to be a diverse community that reflects God’s love for ALL people, no matter our story!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we are a community willing to live in the tension of unanswered questions and the messiness of life stories!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we believe God is found in unexpected places!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because our only requirement to come to the table is to be hungry for Jesus!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because we know that being a follower of Jesus is more than just showing up at church or talking about Jesus, it’s about loving ALL and growing in that love!
I want us to #givegrace in 2017 because only together we can live into our call to welcome, love, and serve!

I am so thankful and honored to be one of your many leaders. Leading in this season towards a fruitful and life-giving future is challenging but extremely rewarding. Leading in this season inspires me because our unique community is sorely needed.

So why will you #givegrace in 2017? Tell me in the comments here on the blog or in the Facebook comments. I cannot wait to read of all the ways that inspire you to make our 2017 ministry possible!

Thoughts on The Episcopal Address 2011

Bishop William W. Hutchinson, Louisiana Area

Each year we wait eagerly for words of wisdom, support and challenge from our Episcopal leader. From the beginning of the church people have been set aside for the work of oversight of God’s people, the church. The nature of this office is apostolic, which means that it has its roots in the sending out of people into the work of proclamation.

The address is one that seeks to highlight our past year and give us words for the year ahead. This “proclamation” seeks to make “apostles” of all us who are hearers in this place.

Katrina and Rita, the two hurricanes of 2005, forced the Louisiana Conference to begin to look at ministry in new ways. Change is always difficult but in times of crisis change is forced upon us and we are able to look at things in different ways. As people were displaced and new communities began to return we realized that a new way of being the church was needed. This new way was not just needed in the New Orleans area and in southwest Louisiana, but in our whole state.

Six years later we have begun to live into this new day. As Bishop Hutchinson told us we must innovate, we must take risks, we must move in decisive ways. This is not easy to do, our tendency is to want everything to remain the same, but we must do so if as the Bishop said, “our goal is to be a more effective movement for the cause of Christ!”

This kind of movement is a movement of all the people of God. The bishop reminded us that God’s people, the laity, are not being asked to “be followers of clergy,” but “to be complete partners in a new direction.” All of us together, all of us as disciples of Jesus, living into our baptismal calling to be about the transformation of the world.

The more I hear about a new day, I keep on thinking that transformation of the world takes a commitment to our own transformation into the way of Jesus. It requires not a new initiative or new call. Instead it requires a re-commitment to our baptismal calling, a recovery of the Wesleyan of discipleship with its bands, classes and societies, and a renewal of our commitment to to works of justice.

We hear much talk today about death, decline, and survival. The United Methodist Church has to face some important realities. We cannot do things as we have done them before, we cannot fund things in the ways we have funded them before, we cannot continue to do things because we have always done them that way. These issues are important realities that we must face and we must speak about.

Yet, as I contemplate the future of the church I do so with hope!

God is doing some amazing things in communities all around us. Everyday we encounter people in need of good news, with people hungry to hear about God. Are we ready to dig deeply into our discipleship? Are we ready to commit ourselves to the way of Jesus not just in the four walls of the church but as the sent out, baptized, sealed by the Spirit, people of God?

Let us raise our heads, lean on God’s Spirit, trust our baptism, and know that we are people of Resurrection, that we are a people that have found life out of death, that we are a people who have been called to leave our places of worship to let all people know of God’s love!

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