Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:13-16 NRSV)
John Wesley, the founder and/or father of Methodism, called the practices that God has chosen for us to participate in, to which God makes Godself readily available to us, as “means of grace”. Wesley speaks of multiple means of grace for Christian living, but only lists five means of grace as instituted directly from God for all times and places and grounded in Scripture from the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The five specific means of grace that Wesley considered to be directly ordained by God are: prayer, searching Scripture, the Lord’s Supper, fasting, and holy conferencing.
This is a very important moment in history for the United Methodist denomination and we have the privilege of being a part of it. As we prepare for the Special General Conference in February, where the United Methodist Church will discuss options on how to move forward on issues that have been dividing the denomination for decades, “holy conferencing” is an incredibly important means of grace that requires intentional and disciplined participation. I would like to call each and every one of you to the intentional practice of holy conferencing as a part of your call to Holy Living.
In all aspects of church life, not just on a denominational level, we have to decide how to organize our ministries, how to apply our faith, how to be good stewards of our money, and even what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. These are decisions that matter to all of us and when we come together to discuss them, there are many different perspectives and opinions.
By calling on the Spirit to guide us to be caring in our conversations, we move from “meetings” to “holy conferencing.” How we talk to and about each other is just as important, if not more important, than the decisions we make together. Practicing the discipline of holy conferencing calls forth deep spiritual maturity from each one of us, in spite of our differences, we are able to love, listen, and respond to each other in Christ-like ways.
Over the next few months, as United Methodists all over the world participate in deep conversations regarding complex issues, I pray that we can continue to practice holy conferencing. And, as we, Hopewell United Methodist Church continue to dream and plan for the future mission of our church, as well as navigate the present, I pray that we, too, can be in holy conference with each other. Let us recognize how important but yet difficult it is to order our conversations. Let us remember to always hold our conversations in grace. Let us always remember to pray and be interrupted by the Holy Spirit when we have lost our way. And, most of all, let us always be ready and willing to receive and share the love of God in ways that supersede our own personal hurts, opinions, and desires. God is calling you to Holy Living this day, will you answer?
For the rest of our quarterly newsletter, you can download it here: Jan-Mar 2019 Newsletter