I had been formally excused from attendance at the North Texas Annual Conference this year because of my sabbatical leave, but decided to watch as much of it as I could by livestream and to keep up otherwise by twitter and blog posts.
Powerful reports filtered in of great worship, strong youth leadership, renewed energy, hope, connection and collegiality. The Nehemiah team did a great job presenting options for new delivery models as they held to the essential mission of the Annual Conference. Church plants are adding many new people to worship and the reports about Owen Ross and the Christ Foundry brought tears of joy to my eyes. The Connections Band brings both great music and hope of life to thousands. Larry George’s strong call to no longer normalize poverty had the twitter feed active and clearly touched by that.
Because of the time difference (I am six hours ahead), I was not able to see the ordination service, but again, the comments suggested an electrifying and powerful evening. I read the sermon and appreciated it, although I have one concern. There is a vital point I think Rev. Baughman missed and I also think, at the end, the Bishop missed. In Acts 2, after Peter’s speech that convicted so many of their need to turn to God, he says to them, “Repent and be baptized.’
Baughman said, “Peter’s prescription is water.” No, Peter’s prescription is repentance. The water to end the draught is the result of repentance.
Repentance, metanoia, is the deep and profound turning from darkness to light, and a turning that always, always, always, leads to huge humility. When we turn from darkness to the light, all of our sin is exposed. Hubris no longer has a place, for we suddenly see ourselves as God sees us, fully in need of the covering of grace. Our proper response: fall on our knees before God with these words, “Have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
That is what didn’t happen, but could have.
I decided to sacrifice sleep on June 5 and go ahead and stay up for the reading of the appointments and the final comments by the Bishop. I heard him preach a powerful sermon from Mark 5 about the demon-possessed man set free by Jesus and then told to do this: ”Go home to your own people. Tell them your story – what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.”
I thought, “What a great segue into his good-bye to this Conference as Bishop–he too, will be going home to tell his story. He will have been set free and will set us free to go forward as a Conference.”